ailments, maladies and anomalies

Do you suppose there is any living man so unreasonable that if he found himself
stricken with a dangerous ailment he would not anxiously desire to regain
the blessing of health?

Petrarch

Ailments–illness, typically minor.
Maladies– a disease or ailment.
Anomalies–a deviation from the expected or standard

If we live, we will live to experience all three…
be it an ailment, a malady or even an anomaly…
Perhaps we will experience all three.

Some of us will have more than others.
And if fortunate, some of us will have them less and very few.

Ailments are more or less just aggravating…
a sore shoulder, a bruised knee, a cut, a slight headache…
things that don’t bring us to our knees but rather just slow us down.

Maladies, however, usually show up at some point or other, unannounced and
tend to be a bit fierce.

They may sneak up on us in the middle of the night or while on vacation.

They most often cause a disruption to our life’s flow and rhythm…
They come in as a cold, the chickenpox, a sore throat, a broken bone, the flu, a stomach bug…
They are annoyances to health and our time but they are things that are usually
rectified with some attention, a few meds and rest.

At other times, maladies can become a full-blown crisis…

They can come on quickly and out of the blue…
be it something like the physical results from an accident, a case of acute appendicitis,
a heart attack or some ruptured or blocked this or that or the dreaded “C” word…

Perhaps it’s a spiked and dangerously high fever for no apparent reason.
A signal from within that something is terribly wrong.

We tend to worry most when these things happen to children.
Often times their systems just aren’t old enough, immune enough, or tough enough
to fight for themselves.

We tend to go into crisis mode when the malady is within a child.

Yet maladies, be they minute or major, more times than not, happen to all of us
and most need our immediate attention…
or either we may suffer from the consequences of the ‘or elses’ in life.

Some maladies are things we have to learn to live with as it seems that our bodies
and/ or our systems are just the lucky bodies and systems that have inherited something
via DNA or just because we’ve become the lucky recipient of whatever has come our way.

Various long term maladies come to mind such as diabetes, chronic pain issues,
glaucoma, arthritis, and even some cancers…

They are annoying, somewhat debilitating, but we learn to carry on.
That is when many of these issues move from being a malady to the
category of an anomaly.

I know about all of these issues…but no more so than that of anomalies.

I have written before about having to live with IBS…
Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
When I was young, they told my mom I had a nervous stomach.

Today it’s more of a case that I hate my guts because my guts hate me.
It’s a great relationship.

I’ve also written about living with a bum thyroid as I have Hashimoto’s disease–
It steals your eyebrows along with your energy and gives you weight,
whether you wanted the weight or not…
and just as suddenly, it takes that weight away but it will not give back eyebrows.
It is a living yo-yo.

I’ve also written about living with hemochromatosis—living with a body
and a liver that absorbs iron and seems to store it as if the Apocolypse is coming…
as in holding on to it till it builds up to a dangerous level and then
you become known as Ironman or Ironwoman—not so bad if you’re into Marvel comics.

All of which are maladies, but if the truth be told, they are seemingly more like odd
anomalies…deviations from the expected and venturing off into the surreal.

Yet be they maladies or anomalies, they are most often things one learns to live with—
because as we age, we seem to acquire more and more anomalies—
anomalies that we just learn to live with.
Aggravating but we know the only choice is to carry on.

Remember what Churchill said…”If you’re going through hell, keep going!!!”

Yet within the recent past year, my anomalies have spiked.
I was left feeling simply bad, all the time.
Achy, tired and just almost flu-like constantly.
But who had time for such?
If you looked at me, you knew no difference…but I did…hence the anomaly.

I am the type of person who likes to have definitive answers in my neat and
tidy little world.
I like to know why certain things are and if I don’t like those certain things,
I want to know what can I do, on my end, to fix them or at least alleviate them.
I’m a doer and a fixer.
I was simply prewired as such.

It seems that my general practitioner, internal med doctor, feels much the same.

Let’s get all the answers and then determine what we need to do.
What is our plan of attack?
I like that, it’s like a good general in battle.

So with a spike in anomalies, which has only lead to exacerbating the current maladies,
I’ve had a bunch of blood work.
I’ve had a few ultrasounds as well.
And the call for a few other tests that I just let pass as time has not been on my side.

My doctor was left with more questions rather than conclusions…

So what does a doctor do when they have more questions than answers???
They send you to another doctor.

I was referred to a rheumatologist.
I was pretty certain I had Lupus.
I just knew it!
I was sure of my answer because finally, I would have some vindication.
I could look a few former doctors, who thought that I was nuts, in the face
and let then know I was not nuts after all!

I’ve thought I’ve had Lupus for most of my adult life.
Too many quirks that couldn’t be readily answered and many of those quirks were
immune-deficient related.

It made perfect sense in my non-medical practicing brain.
Heck, I was adopted, I had no history markers.
I was pulling rabbits out of hats!

It took me two months to get into see this new doctor.
She was backed up that long.
Two months of waiting and feeling like crap but living on…

Then it took almost as long to get the labs and bloodwork back…
One round would come back sketchy so she’d call for more and more vials of blood—
I was beginning to wonder if I wasn’t visiting a vampire or the good old fashion
leech loving doctor.
Heck, why don’t we just chop a hole in my head and let the bad vapors pour on out!

So Wednesday, when we finally met again face to face, she was very apologetic about the length
for which we’ve had to wait…the bloodwork was sent to both California and Michigan.
Am I sure I want to trust what conclusions come out of California and Michigan?!

“Good news,” she tells me, “it is not lupus.”

“Hummmmm” I muse in my head.

“But it is Sjögren’s,” she announces—“another type of immune disease but
the better of the two out of Lupus.”

“Yes well, at least I could pronounce Lupus” I inwardly grumble.

“Sjögren’s can accompany Lupus or stand on its own—
for now; it seems yours is standing on its own.”

“It does much the same as Lupus…it affects your joints, your muscles,
it causes fatigue, causes Reynauds in your fingers and it can affect your organs—
but it primarily attacks your salivary glands and tear ducts as in it affects
the teeth, gums, swallowing, and the eyes.
Oh, and it can lead to Lymphoma so we will need to do regular labs”

I’m going to prescribe an immunosuppressant drug that has been around since WWII.
It was a drug used to treat Malaria in soldiers but then the disease grew resistant so they
discovered that it aided in joint pain…so…

Huh???
I thought she said this was the better of the two autoimmune diseases???!!!
And so now I am a mosquito repellant…sigh.

However, she added, your liver enzymes are just way too high and your
ferritin is way too high plus your kidney functions are way off…
so…..”

And so now it’s off to the Gastrointeroligist for a liver biopsy and to the
Urologists to check on perhaps kidney stones or something else.

I’m the type of person who is a one-stop-shop kind of person.
I don’t like a hodgepodge of the unknown nor a hodgepodge of doctors.
Yet hence the life of an anomaly.

So I’ll keep you posted on this life of an anomaly, malady, and ailment.
Sorting out the three and figuring out which is what.

But in the long run of all of this random mess, I know that God
is well aware of what is what, which is which and why it all is.
It is that knowledge that helps to lead a malady to a mere anomaly…
something perhaps aggravating, yet tolerable…
because all things are used for His glory…
sometimes we don’t see or understand that glory…
but never the less, that Glory remains…

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
Isaiah 60:1 ESV

And today’s irony…
the Verse of the Day:
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you,
even as your soul is getting along well.

3 John 1:2

they came, they played, they departed and now they’re in the ER


(the Sheriff today for Father’s day / Julie Cook / 2019)


(James currently at Children’s Hospital in Atlanta / 2019)

If you’ve ever had grandchildren, you most likely already know how quickly your
neat, orderly and tidy little world transforms when they are tiny, young and small.

Your life turns upside down while your heart grows both deep and wide.


(what was our family room)


(The Mayor’s new Woobooville office / Julie Cook / 2019)

You get tired, overwhelmed, happy, crazy and filled beyond measure…
You are not as young as you once were…the heightened momentum can leave you lagging.
Your stamina lessens, your bones and joints ache and as my husband loves to remind me,
“you’re no spring chicken anymore you know.”

The heck I’m not!!!

You work to keep up.
Chasing, running, scooping up, rocking, kissing, holding, feeding, cleaning, bathing
soothing…
Never stopping until they drop…

And then they look at you and smile or they kiss you, or they cling to you sobbing when
it’s time to leave, and your heart simply explodes…it nearly shatters from what can only be
explained as pure love…
because it is at these moments that you actually realize that this is all about
something so much more than yourself.

When you are the young parent(s), you are so busy living the day to day, getting everyone
through the day by day in one piece…working, living and surviving, you don’t have the time to actually
step outside of the moment and see it for what it is.

That’s the joy of becoming a grandparent…you have that ‘outside of the madness’ perspective
that shows you just how precious all of this really is…

That’s why you jump right in and roll up your sleeves.

And so it was…
For the past four days, our own world has been transformed.
We babysat, we enjoyed, we worked and then we celebrated Father’s day on many different levels…

And as the day waned and it was time to go, the tears began to flow.

And once they all returned back home, the call then came.

“His fever is high again, we’re going to the ER like they told us to do if it spiked again.”

And so I ask that you will please join our little family in prayers over our little James.
Prayers for healing from the lingering fever and infection.

As I type we are waiting on the cultures to return to determine if they keep him again.
We are praying they will send them back home.

It’s up in the air as to whether I will go or stay.

Happy Father’s Day to all and thank you for saying prayers for our little James.

dreams

“Yes: I am a dreamer.
For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight,
and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

Oscar Wilde

Spare a little candle
Save some light for me
Figures up ahead
Moving in the trees
White skin in linen
Perfume on my wrist
And the full moon that hangs over
These dreams in the mist

These Dreams lyrics
Heart

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(super moon 2016 / Julie Cook)

Maybe it was the moon…all that super business doing some massive gravitational pull
on my subconscious…
Or maybe that’s just it in a nutshell, my subconscious…

It was about 5:30 this morning when I woke from a night of fitful sleep.
I had a headache.
If it’s not my back, it’s also my neck—
as in all my discs are giving out…
and obviously the warranty has given out as well…

I got up and rummaged around in the oddly lit house under the watchful eye of the latest super moon,
looking for a couple of motrin to alleviate the gnawing aching pain.
I thought I’d just go ahead and get up since I was pretty much wide awake…
But knowing I had a long day in Atlanta with Dad, what harm would laying back down do,
just for a minute….

Bad idea.

Obviously I fell back asleep…into one of those massively deep sleeps…
as in out like the dead.

It was during this dead sleep that I found myself having the most crazy and vivid dream.

But of course I don’t know why that would be something new or out of the ordinary because
all of my dreams are pretty much crazy.
They often seem quite real albeit bizarre, odd and absolutely not normal.

In this particular dream I was somewhere, though I knew not where,
I just knew it was not home, nor any place familiar.
I was pushing my son in a baby carriage…whereas in real life he’s almost 28…
yet in the dream he was a baby.

We were trying to get away from some bad guy who was following us.
The next thing I remember is that I’m reading in a newspaper in some sort of room
that was again, not familiar.
It was the obituaries and I was reading that both my dad and godfather had each died as
I suddenly found myself desperately trying to text my mother to tell her what I’d read…
because I knew she’d need to know and would need my help.

Ok, so in real life, my mom has been gone now for over 30 years, long before texting ever existed,
let alone living in a society that is now joined at the hip with their cell phones.

I remember that I frustratingly couldn’t get the text right….
which just means that some part of my brain knew that mother was not exactly in texting range….
and yet I couldn’t find my right clothes or any of my “stuff” …
because remember, I was someplace unfamiliar….

Thankfully I finally woke up…only to realize that both my husband I had overslept—
I jumped up, he got up…
and off we both raced for the day.

As he was getting ready to leave for work, I told him briefly about my dream—
and in his typical nonplused fashion…
“I can tell you where you were.”
“Really?!
You can?!” I marveled.
“Yeah, you were in the nut house because all your dreams are the stuff for loony bins”

And I suppose he has a point.

The night before last, I dreamt someone was trying to kidnap and kill my beloved cat
and that I had gotten Carrie Underwood to watch him and help keep him safe.

But I knew where that bizarre dream was born…
it was the direct result of the heavy birthday supper I had eaten that night—
very rich and overfilling…resulting in very poor and fitful sleep.

Last night’s dream however was so vivid that I woke with tears in my eyes and immediately hit
the computer to scour over the obits for my godfather…who thankfully was not there.
A bit irrational but that’s how clear it all seemed.

He and dad are in equally poor states of health…both physically and mentally
with him in a facility while dad is still at home….
So I imagine that that constant worry over both of them,
simply lingers somewhere past the waking and cognizant part of my brain.

And then there was / is mom.
Obviously I am missing her tremendously as I now go it alone caring for dad.

When I was young and foolish I would, from time to time, imagine what it would be like when I
was like my parents who, at the time, were caring for both of my grandmothers—
it’s just that I never imagined what we’d all be living, or in mother’s case not living,
as we are today.
And maybe that’s the thing—life is never what we imagine nor dream what it will be.

Sometimes it can be the stuff of dreams—
all good, all nice and all delightfully other worldly…
but for the majority of the time,
it is humanly real, raw and very very hard.

I think that’s why I’ve let what’s going on in this country of ours bother me so badly…
as it’s just left me feeling so depressed, not that my own life hasn’t been depressing enough.

Life is hard.

And it requires a great deal from us just to make it through.

I work hard just getting through each day…
as these past two years have been all but draining of all emotions and physical well being.
It’s as if I’ve been living under a very heavy grey cloud…
ever since, having lost their cognitive and physical freedoms,
Dad and my stepmother required outside help.

And it is very much that I have bordered on depression on and off these past two years.

Yet I work very hard to make certain that they are ok in their own home…
cause that’s how dad wants it…
to go out in a box from his own home…whenever that day comes—
despite me explaining to him that I don’t think a box will be involved….

There is the day to day running of their household…
the caregivers, the housekeeper, the nurses, hospice, the bills, the taxes, the invoices,
the groceries, the doctors, the hospitals, the maintenance on a older home…
And then there is our household 75 miles away—
as in me the caregiver, the maid, the cook, the yardman, and everything else in between…
when and if there is time or energy or even desire…

People wonder why I don’t have time to do this or that anymore…
why can’t I squeeze in anything for me or for them or for whatever…
I obviously don’t even have time to sleep worth a flip let alone the nicer things about
nurturing self or that of friendships….

So I grow angry when I see on the news the sea of protesters across this county.
Surely I’m not the only person who has life issues to contend with.
My life is more than enough to keep me busy and focused…
Lord knows how’d I manage to balance protesting, marching, walking out of class…
all the while fussing and cussing with my neighbors on the street…

Life is bigger than any of us realize…
It’s bigger than this election.

When it is all said and done…
presidents will come and go,
elections will come and go…

Some elections will go the way we want and some will not…
that’s how life works—not always as we’d like…

That’s simply life and it is what it is wherever or not you and I like that…

And I can honestly say that anyone battling a catastrophic illness, caring for loved ones,
watching elderly parents slowly slip away or who has been devastatingly injured,
will tell you that that is not how they ever would have imagined or dreamed their lives would go.

So everyone out there who seems to think they have all sorts of time for all
this bitching, complaining and nasty fussing and cussing…
because that’s what protests are are they not…glorified bitching and complaining…
obviously has way too much time on their hands to waste…
the otherwise precious energy for living.

My God, can’t those of you just be thankful that you can afford to be in college?
And can apparently afford to ditch class…
not to mention all these high school kids out there walking out of class who can’t yet even vote.
Stay in class for heaven’s sake and learn something about being a decent citizen
because wandering around on the streets fussing and cussing your neighbor
isn’t gaining anything but expending wasted anger….

Instead of wrath and anger, be thankful that you live in a country that affords you
the opportunity to vote—
Never mind that whomever it was you wanted to win may not have won…
because that’s simply the result when two people run…one wins, one does not.
That’s called democracy and you have a military that has lost countless of lives
of men and women over the generations who sacrificed everything for you…
you who now use your protected freedom and wasted time in life that you cannot get back
to bitch, complain, fuss and cuss and march…

But be glad you have choice…so many countries don’t get choice.
That little fact is in part why other nations view us as entitled and spoiled—
we bitch and complain even when we have options and choice…
as in we never really seem happy.

Be glad that obviously you are healthy enough to go out, ditching class or work,
just to bitch and complain…
because those who are sick, hurting or busy with the demands of life, simply can’t fit any of that in.

Dream…dream big…big wonderful sorts of dreams…
because one thing we know about America is that dreaming and working can make dreams come true—
because America has always equated to opportunity…
where in other nations…
opportunity not so much….

Don’t fuss and cuss…because life is simply too short…
Dreaming is so much more important and much more fun and much more hopeful and much more productive
than bitching and complaing and marching and fussing and cussing our neighbors….

Just ask Dad….who just wishes he could have a little more time in life to dream….

“In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams….”

Acts 2:17

revolving

The force that keeps the planets revolving around the sun would
be glad to handle the circumstances of your life,
if only you would ask Him to.

Marianne Williamson

Hintergr_solo_122x80
(image courtesy GU door products and technology)

As a kid I was always mesmerized, as well as terrified, of revolving doors.
Upon visiting any sort of office, hotel or building, that had a revolving door as an entrance,
I would hurry scurry to enter my own little “chamber” or section.
Never wanting to hop in with a stranger and always afraid
I’d push too fast for the others entering and exiting…
All the while I prayed I could keep up without getting my foot stuck or
simply missing the cue for exiting…
otherwise hopelessly getting caught in a quick spin cycle.

All the rather paranoid and silly thoughts of a child.

However…
I still don’t particularly care for revolving doors.

Do I hop in with my companion?
Do I wait to hop into my own little section?
Do I walk and push quickly…or leisurely taking my time, leaving the pushing to another?
Is there revolving door etiquette?
Or worse, I am left to wonder if it’s an automatic door that swings at a set speed…
will I have to quickly or slowly keep up?

What’s wrong with simply pulling or pushing on a single door in or out?

Yet it is to the revolving door that my life is now set.

Spinning round and round with the busyness of comings and goings…

It’s like riding a merry go round—spinning and spinning, round and round in circles without
really going anywhere…
yet truly not being able to get off…
Certainly not in time enough to stop this current madness…

There’s now dad and this cancer business…
As if age, dementia and frailty just wasn’t enough…

There is now the constant driving from my small town into the big city, and back again…
over and over and over….
Constantly wondering how long I’ll get stuck in traffic…
while praying I’m not flattened by some crazy tractor trailer truck.

Then there’s my son taking a job in that same big city…
(which as far as dad is concerned, is actually a hidden blessing)
Of which means a quick hurry up and move situation for him….
while his wife, who teaches here, will be in a bit of limbo
….gravitating between their house, the new apartment and time with us…
It will be a year of transition for them with my husband and I right in the thick of it…

How many times have we moved him in a 10 year span?
Add now a wife and a dog and we just keep multiplying boxes and trips….
And once again, our small family will be separated…
and I will certainly be sad…

It can all be all so very overwhelming…
It is so very overwhelming…

But…

such is life….
such is my life…

A constant revolving, devolving and evolving…
spinning out of control…

It can get to be too much
too tiring…
too demanding…
too exhausting…

Which is just about where I am right about now.
Exhausted.

That’s when I know I need to stop…
taking a very long deep breath.

Breathing out and letting go…
Breathing in a healing…
…Spirit

The rhythmic breathing of…prayer…

Breathing in the Spirit of God…
Exhaling the burdens I can no longer bare…
alone…

Because I am not alone…
I, me, you, we, us…
were all given a promise…

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20

And so we, me, you, us…must claim that promise…

And I am claiming that promise just as fast as I can…

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:1-3

pecans and prayers

“The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

RSCN4110
( our first crop of pecans / Julie Cook / 2016)

First of all let’s start off on a positive foot this morning…

Look at our first pecans on our little pecan tress.

You may remember the post I did about a year and a half ago regarding the whole buying, planting and caring for our little grove to be of 15 pecan trees…

People are all the time asking
“what are those cute little stick-like trees out in the field…?”

And I like to tell them that they are my little green topped Q-tips—
because that’s what they look like, an orchard of 15 little green topped Q-tips…

But how exciting it is that one tree out of 15 has decided to bless us with pecans…
However the jury is still out on whether or not they will actually mature into full fledged nuts…

Now on to the more serious…

I arrived at Dad’s early this morning, just on time to get him up and out the door to head off to the doctor’s for a scope procedure to figure out why he’s bleeding so much upon urination.

Dad had his prostate removed almost 30 years ago so that’s not the worry.
His late brother did have a kidney removed, due to a contained kidney cancer, when he was about Dad’s age and did fine with all of that—but he was always much more spry, active and more positive than dad.

So let me just say that I have been frustrated by the lack of speed in which these doctors seem to be operating.

Over a month ago I called Dad’s primary doctor telling him about the blood we’ve all been seeing and wondered might Dad not have another UTI?
He says he doesn’t have time for Dad to come in that particular day, how about in two days…

Ok, really???…you don’t have time for an 88 year old man who is losing blood from a rather odd place to come pee in a cup?

Ok
Whatever…

So when we finally jump through that little hoop, the labs come back negative for infection.
Henceforth we are referred to a specialist urologist—
A specialist who doesn’t have an opening for 3 weeks.

REALLY???

An 88 year old man is now bleeding every time he pees and is leaking blood on his clothes and sheets and you don’t have something sooner than 3 weeks???!!!

I know I’m surely not the only one thinking that Dad is
now more pale and much more frail and feeble.
I am not a rocket scientist but if I had an 88 year old patient losing blood,
I think I might consider that he could now be anemic and that maybe, just maybe,
he might need to get said 88 year old in the office asap…
(after today’s event, I will be calling the primary doc back tomorrow for some immediate labs)

So anywhooo, we wait.
Meanwhile Dad is calling daily to inform me that he is now not long for this world.

“DAD…will you stop that!!!”
“Let’s try and think positive shall we….”

So today when my son and I show up at Dad’s door,
in order to whisk him away for the 20 minute drive north for this procedure,
Dad is still sitting in his chair.

“Dad, come on, we’ve got to go….”
“Uh, I need to go shave”
A collective “WHAT??!!” is bellowed throughout the room by me, the caregiver, my stepmother and my son.
As in what have you been doing all morning but sitting in that chair waiting on me to come
get you and you still need to shave?!

“Well just go get my electric razor and I’ll shave in the car…”

Really?!

I tell my son the grab the walker, I grab dad, who grabs his razor and out the door we go.

Walking out the door I see that Dad is wearing a very dirty pair of khakis—
“Been sneaking more chocolate again Dad…?”
“Uh, do you want me to change pants?”

“Heaven’s no, we don’t have time–maybe no one will notice you’re wearing both last night’s supper, a bag of candy and this morning’s breakfast….”

Once in the car, I need to use my trusty little Mapquest app to find where we’re going as it’s north of Atlanta, somewhere way up 400.
However I can’t hear the lovely Mapquest woman talking for the loud buzzing of Dad’s razor.

“Dad do you need to use the mirror?”
“No”

Great, he’s now going to look like some Chinese Crested Chihuahua dog…

6a1c1edb-b647-4ecc-815a-519b744935a5
(not exactly dad, but very close)

We finally arrive at a massive array of office buildings, high up on a hill, perched off a very busy road.
A, B and C.
We need building C.
Upon seeing building C’s drive, I turn immediately.
Luckily no one is behind me to rear-end me.

I stop the car long enough for my son to get both walker and Dad out of the car, allowing them to head on up into the massive maze while I go to the massive maze of a parking deck.

By the time I rendezvous with my people, it’s time for Dad to head back for the procedure.
The nurse takes us back to a room where she tells Dad to drop his pants and hop up on the table.

Really???!

She then ushers me out into the hallway to wait in a chair as I explain to her that she might want to help him with that whole dropping of the pants and hopping up on the exam table…
you saw the walker right?

Barely 5 minutes pass and I see dad exiting the door, holding his unzipped, unbuttoned, unbelted pants as he shuffles at breakneck speed down the hall.
I jump up but some nurse voice from behind me tells me not to worry he just needs to go empty his bladder.

Oh, that’s reassuring.

Dad makes his way back down the hall in order to take a chair by me.
I notice that the entire backside of his pants is soaked.

Really???

I tell the nurse we seem to have had an accident.
She then asks if Dad would like a pair of scrubs.
“No” he wearily replies as he tells me the doctor found a tumor.

WHAT???

Finally the nurse comes to check his blood pressure and to give us his discharge papers.
Discharge papers????
He wasn’t back there 5 minutes!
She again asks about the scrubs.
He declines so she gives me a pad to put in the car.

Great.

The doctor, with hands stuffed in the pockets of his white coat, saunters down the hall
to where we sit and pulls the curtain—
So now we can’t see anyone around us but we can hear everyone loud and clear as they can hear us.
Funny how we fearfully fret over HIPAA laws, yet we leave nothing to privacy in hospitals and procedure facilities…
perfect sense…just like this country, but I digress.

Mr personalityless doctor tells me he wants dad back—they will call me in about 5 days to schedule a procedure to remove what they can of the tumor and send it off for a biopsy and hopefully it will curtail the bleeding.

I look at the doctor explaining to him that Dad has a tendency to gravitate to the negative and fixates on all things cancer, and that I’ve explained to Dad that not all tumors mean a person has cancer…right?!
The doctor offers a dry and unreassuring “yes”

Great.

After leaving the maze of a building, finding the car, getting Dad and walker back in the car, we prepare for our drive home.

“So Dad, what would you like for lunch?

“I can’t think about lunch right now, I have cancer.”

“DAD, no one said you have cancer.”

“I think you should call the church and put me on the prayer list.”

“Dad, you aren’t dying, you don’t need a prayer list…and anyway, you’ve not been to that church
in over 20 years, you don’t even know who the priest is up there…”
“We’ll call Martha and get her to put you on her list”
“Now what about lunch…”

Finally getting a very dejected Dad back home with his soaking wet pants, to the safety of his chair,
my stepmother greets us at the door…

“well, how’d you make out?”

“The doctor says Dad has a tumor in the bladder…”

“A container in his bladder??”
(she can’t hear and refuses to get hearing aids)

“NO, A TUMOR”
“oh” as she chuckles to herself…as I figure she has no clue as to what I’m talking about.

Asking again what everyone wants for lunch, the consensus is Chick-fil-A.

As I head out the door, dad hollers out “DON’T FORGET THE COOKIES”
Nothing like a little sweet to take the worry out of the day….

So let’s put dad on the prayer list here please—

I’ll keep you updated….

Meanwhile may we all be mindful that something as simple as a cookie or
something even nice and chocolatey, as Dad will testify,
can definitely help cure what ails you!

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Have a good life

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Allen Saunders

“The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only others but ourselves as well.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

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(cross found in the Rock of Cashel cemetery, County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just when you thought you had things situated, straightened out, figured out
and felt you were rolling merrily along feeling in charge, doing a good job of keeping your world in the middle of the road… Life’s little wicked twists and turns come calling, sending you careening out of control.

And so it was when the phone rang late this evening.
It was my godmother calling.
I’ve written about both my “godparents” before.
He is a life long Episcopal priest, Dean Emeritus of the Cathedral in Atlanta where I had grown up.
She, his wife, for the past near 70 years.
He’s soon to turn 93 and she 90.
Their bodies and minds failing in tandem.

I first wrote about my godfather shortly after I started this little blog of mine
as he was the one person in my life who had made the greatest impact–
as he basically saved me from myself when he came into my life…
when I was all of 15 years old.
I won’t retell that long convoluted tale as you can read it elsewhere if you so desire,
(https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/ ) but suffice it to say, he’s meant the world to me.

Whereas he and I have shared the common thread of each being adopted, as I was a teen when we first found one another, we each had, throughout the years, a sea of ups and downs with our perspective internal baggage. We had our hard fraught moments as much healing took place over the years within both of our hearts as we walked the journey together. He taught me about unconditional love and what it truly meant–as I continued testing the depths of that love.

She was often in the shadows.
As the wife of a very busy and well known national cleric, picking up pieces, tending to children, as well as the home front, would have been the assumed standard lot for such a spouse.
Yet she was never one to shrink or hide.
This was a woman who had had a career on Broadway in the 40’s staring in Carousel along with other well known musicals.
She was outspoken and very very sound in her faith, never mincing her words.

She had more than her fair share of input into the shaping of my life.
So much so that my own mother was often intimidated.
She was the type of woman who saw what needed to be done and simply went about doing it, no matter who or what would or could be in the way or problematic.
“No” was not a word that was within her thought process.

So today when the phone rang, I figured it was a call of checking in and touching base.
Perhaps a thank you for the latest goodies I’d sent through the mail…
But no, this was not that type of conversation.

Before we even finished with the opening pleasantries of the “hey, how are yous”– she begins with “the Lord told me that He wants me to call and tell the people in my life what they have meant to me…so…I want you to know how grateful I am for…how precious you are to me…how much I thank you…how I want you to know…”

“WHOA—what are you saying???!!!” I fumble over the words.
“Well, I’ll be 90 soon, I don’t have much time left….
“WHOA—let’s not rush things shall we….” I hear myself stammering.
“Now let’s not put the cart before the horse shall we…” I continue trying to stop where this conversation is going…for all sorts of reasons–

She continues on with her “speech” when suddenly her mind takes the conversation elsewhere, in a totally different direction and tone… which is what’s more telling to me than her kind and endearing words–
Time is truly of the essence is it not…in this world that is…

Whereas my Godmother is sound in her faith and has no doubts, no regrets, as she continues pushing forward despite failing body and mind, living to hear His word and obeying those words to the very end—I fear there are not many of us who are as determined to do His very bidding up to that last breath we each have on this earth—or perhaps it’s more about having the courage to do so.

And maybe that’s it–
Courage, freedom, determination…

What is it that gives us, offers us, the courage to do and say the words God urges us to speak…. as well as giving us the “why”… as to why we are to speak certain words in the first place… and then there is the “when”… when are we to speak them and to whom.

When do we give ourselves the freedom to speak such words?
And what is it that sets our determination to do all of the above—
is it our health, our time, our circumstance?

As the conversation finally came to an end, with me most thankful as the difficulty and awkwardness of her words were crushing in on my heart, she put my godfather on the phone who proceeds to tell me he loves me and to “have a good life”

Oooooo, this is NOT the conversation I wanted to hear this evening.
Often within adopted folks there is a tiny voice buried deep within that likes to perpetuate a lie that “you’re not really ever wanted,” so hearing, as well as accepting, such deep and meaningful words, that you matter or are dearly loved, or are precious to someone can be very hard to digest… as you simply feel most unworthy…
Plus this whole signing off as if I’ll never see them or hear from them again is most unnerving–as it reminds me that none of us are guaranteed a thing in this world, especially not time…that precious commodity we so often take for granted…

So when this once prolific writer, speaker, preacher, religious leader who just so happens to be my “godpoppa” utters his parting words in an almost singsong sort of fashion
“Have a good life”
I’m like a deer in headlights…frozen in the moment.

Have a good life….
Who says that???!!
An almost 93 year old man who has spent the last couple of years fighting with his mind as it tries to shut down, and he’s hellbent to hold on…

This as I head to Dad’s today which is a whooooole ‘nuther ballgame–

So here’s to life…
Here’s to the end of life…
Here’s to how we choose to live that life, up to the very end…
and here’s to love….

May we all “have a great life…”

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 14:15

Walking stick or prop

“Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.”

Bill Withers

“Conceit may puff a man up, but never prop him up”
John Ruskin quotes

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(walking stick made by a craftsman in Townsend,Tenn. / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(my son when he was much much younger with the same walking stick on a hike in Cades Cove, TN / Julie Cook)

The above images are photographs featuring a single stick–
yes, you read correctly, a stick—
but this is not just any old stick. . .
This stick is a fine hand carved Tennessee walking stick—
built to aid one when traversing the paths and trails, for this particular stick,
throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains.

And as we see, this particular stick did indeed fulfill its duty for an eager young hiker. . .

Now all this talk of sticks has brought to mind a recent bit of dialog. . .

The other day I received a very kind comment on one of my recent posts from a gentleman in Cameroon.
He noted that in the bio section of my blog it stated that I had opted to retire from teaching as I needed to be free and flexible in order to help take care of my dad who lives in a different city than my own.
I needed to be able to drive over for scheduled appointments to doctors, the bank, etc as well as for those unexpected and unplanned drives when I would, and do, need to drop everything, making the mad 70ish mile dash to Dad’s. . .

This most kind gentleman in his comment equated my being the child who now serves as
a walking stick—being there to offer aid and support to an
aging father along this most latest journey.

His comment or perhaps observation stuck me as deeply profound.

It’s not that I feel as if I am doing anything out of the ordinary–certainly not to receive any sort of recognition–because I’m merely doing what is necessary–
Simply that which needs doing—

It should be noted however that in certain countries and cultures, other than my own, that it is often considered part and post to offer aid, support and comfort to one’s aging parents—even considered a privilege to tend to the elderly as the elderly are revered and seen as viable and important.

Sadly my observation of life here in the US is in stalk contrast to such as is seems our Nation’s opinion of aging is a bit skewed and warped as we tend to view aging as something tragically bad and something we will fight with our last dime and breath.

We Americans are not very good with this concept of aging as we’ve never been lauded as a country which truly honors it’s aging senior citizens.
We are, are we not, the country of youth and vigor—relishing in the freedom and mobility of perpetual agelessness as we continue searching for the elusive fountain of youth.
We work hard not to age— fighting it tooth and nail.
Those worn out, tired, aging and ill bodies are often seen as a hinderance to our
youth-minded and action packed lives.

But my thoughts today are not so much about aging or America’s view of its elderly but rather of the role of a simple stick, a walking stick. . .

A devise used to aid and assist verses a device meant to act as a mere prop. . .

The roles we hold throughout our lives vary as much as the seasons.
We first arrive into this world in a very dependent state, eventually transitioning to that of being independent with a final swinging back to that of being dependent again—all throughout the course of a single lifetime.

Ideally life flows from dependence to independence and briefly back to dependence toward the end of a long and well lived life. Yet sadly,for some of us however, life deals a cruel hand or two as we find ourselves at the height of independence suddenly falling rapidly back into a state of dreaded dependence.
Finding ourselves in desperate need of the aid and assistance offered by those walking sticks within our lives.

There are times that it is to a literal stick we turn, but more often than not, it is to the living walking sticks—those who come to our side offering their support– physically, financially, mentally and emotionally aiding us in moving forward.

A walking stick is active whereas a prop, which can indeed be a stationary walking stick, is more static. Props do serve a purpose but they are usually placed, then quickly forgotten. . .that is until they begin to fail and need replacing.

A walking stick however becomes a constant interaction—sometimes silent sometimes not.
A steady companion of sorts—allowing us to move forward, albeit aided and perhaps a bit slowly, but forward none the less–whereas a prop does not afford motion or progress.

Which begs the question of each of us—
are we a walking stick or merely a static prop?
I think I like the thought of being a walking stick myself. . .


***a thank you offered to Ngobesing Romanus at The World’s Best Success Inspirer blog for his most thoughtful comment

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all things acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your way.
Proverbs 3:5-6