speed bumps, potholes, obstacles

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.
I don’t believe in circumstances.
The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look
for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

George Bernard Shaw


(ok, this is a speed hump, but you get the idea)

In a galaxy lifetime long ago and far away,
I was once a prolific writter.

Imagine that.

I use to actually write…

Not like I do here pecking away in blogville, but I actually used a pen and paper
and I wrote letters, cards, notes, journals…

A good many of those cards and letters were addressed to my godfather–
who in turn, wrote and sent letters and cards right back.

Over the years I saved every one of those pieces of correspondence.

They were the tangibles to our relationship.
I think we were each a tad freer when writing as expression and thoughts
flowed freely.

Those saved letters, notes and cards may be found in overstuffed bibles,
books, drawers, and any number of boxes from that past life of mine…

I recently found one of those letters.

At the time it was written, my godfather was probably just a little older than I am now.

In the letter, he made mention of some health issues he’d been dealing with-
adding that such was an ode to the aged.

Well, I kind of get that now.

I am now keenly aware of the obstacles, speed bumps, and potholes…
all of which are part of the distracting messes that get in our way,
while we attempt to move forward on that proverbial road of life.

As we age, the space between those bumps, potholes, and obstacles feels as if
it grows ever closer, more precarious and much more difficult to avoid let alone maneuver past.

There seems to be less road but only more things that force us to detour from our straight pathway.

I feel as if I’ve been riding those speed bumps, as of late, much like some sort of
downhill freestyle mogul skier.

There’s been a rising crescendo of health mysteries colliding into one another like
rouge asteroids out in space…bouncing me around violently like a ball in a pinball machine.

So last week, in between my running from test and test, doctor and doctor, I
actually had a long-standing scheduled routine mammogram.

No big deal right?
Well, right, it shouldn’t be ..but surprisingly it was .

The problem was, it became a big deal fast.

I went Wednesday morning for my scheduled appointment and by Thursday evening I received an email
that there was an ‘abnormality’—an abnormality that required a lengthy revisit with
some more intense testing.

Abnormality is never a good word.

Normally, alarm bells would be sounding.
The C-word would be swirling in a mind now on overload.
Imagined scenarios would be playing out in a now panicked mind like a
melodramatic soap-opera.

I read the note to my husband who suddenly looked stricken.

My response was atypical.

I laughed.

I laughed because it was an ‘are you freaking kidding me?!’ moment.

I suppose I could cry over the one more erratic pin suddenly being jabbed into the voodoo
doll with my name on it…or…I could laugh.

And so yes I opted to laugh.

It was about 18 years ago that I had had a scare following a routine mammogram.
Back then, the questioned concern was found within my left side.
I was told I would need to have lumpectomy…
And blessedly, pathology proved the scare to be benign.

All these years later, it was the same side…again.

And so I went today for my marathon re-do.
Plan on 2.5 hours they told me.
But they assured me that I would have all the results before leaving.

Was I nervous?

Somewhat because the unknown can always be scary.
I told my husband I wanted to go to the appointment by myself…
to be lost in my thoughts I suppose.

Our new fancy-schmancy medical complex is a sleek modern sterile facility.
Gone is the once warm and fuzzy homey feel to the Women’s Center…
Today’s further testing seemed rather void and cold leaving me feeling
detached…of which might have been a good thing.

I had two intense procedures in the course of my time today at the center.
And the final word was there were only cysts showing within the normal range.

Whew!
Speed bump cleared.

So now it’s time to gear up for the next obstacle…stutter-stepping in order
to clear the next hurdle life throws up my way.
And how do we gear up for such you ask???

We take the hand of the One who has long asked to travel this journey with us.

He even offers to carry us when we really grow weary…

So I think I’ll take Him up on His offer…

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

love always you must…

“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.”
Yoda


(a screen shot from my son’s televison / Julie Cook / 2020)

You might be wondering where I’ve been…or not.

It was supposed to just be a weekend visit.
Up to visit the grandkids.

I got to the daycare just following “something” having happened.
The owner was on the phone with a mom and she seemed very nervous
while trying to explain this “something” to the mom.
She looks up and tells me she’s talking to my daughter-in-law.

That sickening feeling hits my stomach.

What something??

Autumn fell.

She fell back, having pulled away from one of the assistants and fell onto her elbow.
Now her arm wasn’t “working”.
It was hanging limp at her side.

And I knew immediately that something was indeed wrong when they brought her out to me—
she just stood there staring at me…
not her typical jumping, running and squealing when she sees me.

Once I got them loaded up in the car, I called my daughter-in-law telling
her that I did think she should be seen.

We drove down to the pediatrician’s office meeting my daughter-n-law.

The doctor tried “manipulating” the arm, thinking it was dislocated—
which immediately sent Autumn wailing with pain.

But the doctor didn’t feel that the arm was “popping” back into place.
She sent us to the ER for x-rays.

No breaks showed up thankfully but the doctor wanted
us back in the office Saturday morning.

Autumn’s arm hung limply by her side for the remainder of the evening as she readily
made quick use of her left arm seemingly unphased.
But each time we tried bending the arm when taking off her shirt and putting
on her pajamas, she would cry.

Saturday morning, we were at the doctor’s office bright and early.
She tried popping the arm back into place but was unsuccessful.
She attempted putting the arm in a sling—that went over like a lead balloon.
A 23-month-old and a sling are not friends meant to be.
We were next scheduled to meet with a pediatric orthopedic Monday morning.


(The puny Mayor in her short lived sling with “ma” / Julie Cook / 2020)

Little by little over the weekend, we noticed Autumnn started using her arm a bit more
sparingly and gingerly.

The ortho doc said that the elbow could be fractured as the x-rays did not
focus on the elbow but rather the bones in the arm…the humerus, radius, and ulna
but he did not see a dislocation and doubted it was fractured.

He said it was a classic Nursemaid arm and that each day we should see improvement
as the arm probably did most likely “pop” back and was simply sore.

I headed home late Monday evening.

As a grandmother, I know that this will be the first of many calls…
calls about slips, spills, and falls.
Some will be scary, some will be minor and some will stop our hearts…

Oddly, during all of this, the Sherrif however never seemed phased by his sister’s mishap.


(the sheriff just happy as a clam / Julie Cook / 2020)

All I know is that there is no better place I’d rather be than in a big chair watching
cartoons with the two little people who I adore….dislocated or not.

Love always we must!

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8

Eating the most expensive scrambled eggs while pondering cheap grace.

This is NOT the picture of scrambled eggs that sat in a styrofoam bowl along with
a plastic fork and napkin that awaited me in the nuclear medicine lab this morning…
complete with a dixie cup of water–
but I just wasn’t thinking fast enough to snap a picture before downing
my radioactive breakfast.

I had gotten up with the chickens this morning in order to arrive at the hospital
bright and early for a gastric swallowing test.

It was to be a 90-minute procedure that I really felt was not at the heart of my
issues and not what I really needed but I am currently playing human guinea pig.

I was supposed to have an MRI Monday of my liver, with and without contrast…
of which would also take a look-see at my gallbladder and pancreas.
The scan had been scheduled for two months…but last week the gal in scheduling called
to tell me that the insurance company had told the hospital that I had just had a CT scan
so why would they now need an MRI?!

Don’t you just love insurance companies and hospitals!?

“Well yes,” I explained to the gal at scheduling “I did just have a CT scan 4 weeks ago.”
“But that was a CT scan in the office of a Urologist that was to check my kidneys and bladder
for any abnormalities or kidney stones since there has been blood in my urine and lower
abdominal pain along with bloodwork that was all over the place indicating
low kidney functions.”

“The MRI is for the gastroenterologist and was to be performed at the hospital as he wants
an image of the liver before he does a biopsy…
The same blood work that showed poor kidney function also showed high liver levels with even
the fatty liver enzymes increasing…along with the recurrent bouts of either
gallstones or pancreatitis.”

She told me I could go ahead with the test on Monday but that I would have to sign a
waiver stating that I would be responsible for the full amount until the insurance company
decided to approve it…or not. Something like $6000 bucks…
I politely declined and so we rescheduled for the beginning of February as by then I
trust the insurance company will have things sorted out in the understanding department.

So as I sat down in the lab full of whizzing machines and fans,
I raised a fork full of eggs to my mouth and I asked the nuclear med tech if he was going to
poke an IV in my arm for the nuclear meds.
He replied nonchalantly, “nope, it’s all in the eggs.”
“In fact, he quipped, “that’s probably the most expensive little serving of eggs you’ll ever eat.”

Suddenly I felt like some former 007 MI6 / Russian spy who had been discovered
with Putin himself ordering that my eggs be poisoned with undetectable radioisotopes.

But luckily these ‘isotopes’ emit photons which would be detected by the gamma camera
that was to hover over me while I laid perfectly still for 90 minutes.
The machine would follow the path of eggs from esophagus to stomach on out to the small intestine.

Amazing really when you think about it all.
How amazing is it that God crafted every tiny little detail and how amazing is that man is
trying to figure out how to get up close and personal to watch the Master at work!

So let’s back up.

When I arrived at the hospital, the scheduling gal told me to arrive at one entrance vs another.
So once my husband dropped me off at the front door, I hurried in from the cold and walked up to the
receptionist’s desk.
The nice lady told me I was actually to have arrived downstairs at the other entrance.
I had asked the girl on the phone twice and she told me this entrance.
Sometimes I think hospitals are too big for their own good.

So the nice lady at the wrong desk got me scheduled and actually walked me to the elevator and
through the maze of corridors all the way to the Nuclear lab.
Where I proceeded to wait until my name was called.

The gal working this particular desk was actually a former student who began catching
me up on the last 20 years of her life—marriage, kids, careers, divorce and now remade woman.

As other patients arrived and she kept talking, I made nice by excusing myself so the line wouldn’t
continue building behind me as I politely listened to life.

I found a chair in the corner and pulled out my phone to peruse my WP reader.

Now you know that if I ever see a post with the word Bonhoeffer in it, I knee-jerk click.

And I am so glad that I did.

The post is by Jarrett Dickey who is a blogger, pastor and faculty member of
several colleges where he teaches theology and humanities.

His post is titled ‘Bonhoeffer’s Cheap Grace’
a post based on Bonhoeffer’s writings from The Cost of Discipleship

I have written many a post highlighting Bonhoeffer’s writings based on cheap vs costly grace.
But it should be noted that Bonhoeffer’s works are not often easy to read…they are
deep in both a theological sense and a personal sense.

Talk about conviction–cheap grace.

Here is the post:

The opening chapter of The Cost of Discipleship features Dietrich Bonhoeffer in some
of his best form as a writer. His use of paradox, irony, hyperbole,
exaggeration, and sarcasm makes this one of the wittiest criticisms of popular Christian
theology ever written. It also can make it hard to understand and follow for
the uninitiated reader. In general, Bonhoeffer is addressing the two major
flaws of the Protestant (especially Lutheran) mindset.

The rich and complex biblical portrait of faith is reduced to simple belief in creeds,
doctrines, or statements of faith.
In trying to correct the Catholic over-emphasis on the necessity of good works for salvation,
Protestants have gone to the extreme of making good works almost entirely optional (sola fides).
As Bonhoeffer explains, Protestants have turned orthodox Christianity into Christianity
without discipleship or obedience or sacrifice. In short, this is what he calls
“cheap grace.”
In addition to addressing these two major mindsets, Bonhoeffer seems to be addressing
two other major flaws in popular Christian thought:

You can be forgiven by God without being transformed by God.
In other words, you can continue in your old lifestyle (what the Bible calls
“the flesh”) and be pleasing to God, no need to walk in the Spirit or live a holy life.
There are two levels of commitment. One is for the really devoted Christian
(i.e. monks, missionaries, pastors, etc.), and the other is for the average Christian.
In other words, a spiritual caste lives a devoted and sacrificial life while
the regular class of Christians lives a worldly and ordinary life.
Bonhoeffer’s main point in all this is that God’s grace cost the life of God’s son.
Although God’s grace is freely given to all who are willing to receive,
it still costs something from the one who receives.
What does it cost? Simply put, it costs a man his life.
In return for the free gift of God’s grace, a man offers his life in total obedience
to God’s will. This is what Paul says in Romans 12:1-2.
In light of God’s mercy, there can only be one response:
the offering of oneself completely to God.

On this basis faith is clearly more than just belief.
It involves trust, obedience, sacrifice, loyalty, and commitment.
The Latin term, fides, conveys the multiplicity of faith.
Imagine substituting the English word “fidelity” for the word “faith”
throughout the biblical text.
The reader would walk away with the sense that faith was a lifetime commitment
of enduring loyalty. With this in mind, faith and works cannot be so easily
separated into different compartments. As Paul says in Romans 1:5,
he is trying to spread “the obedience of faith.” The two are linked in a beautiful dance.

Furthermore, the biblical notion of faith implies a change and transformation.
Receiving the mercy of God does not leave a person unaffected.
Grace is the power to live a new and abundant life. Finally,
we can see that there is only one Christian life– the one of total surrender to the will of God.
This, as Bonhoeffer explains, is costly grace.

https://conciliarpost.com/theology-spirituality/bonhoeffers-cheap-grace/

be not anxious

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and position,
with thanksgiving, present your requests before God.

Philippians 4:6


(male and female urinary tract medical chart)

This is the chart that was staring at me today from the back of the door inside
the procedure room where I sat waiting.

I felt it was a waste of my time, not to mention money,
to be sitting and waiting on this final of three procedures.
The race down this particular rabbit hole was not, is not, a part of my current issues…
or so was my non-medical opinion.

Ever since July, I have been slowly riding a bit of a medical merry-go-round.

Bloodwork results resulted in more bloodwork.
More bloodwork results resulted in more specialized doctors.
Waiting on specialized results resulted in waiting to be seen by more specialists.
All kinds of specialists.

It seems this Sjögren’s business leads to soft tissue disease,
eye troubles, mouth troubles, kidney troubles, joint troubles,
even upping lymphoma possibilities.

Over the years, I’ve had the eyes, mouth and joint issues that I just thought
were odd individuals annoyances and not linked together.

Turns out they were linked.

Now throw in the soft tissue disease…gees.

The bloodwork results were all somewhat unsettling.
Elevated levels here, diminished levels there.
Ups and downs all over the place.

Add to that a suspected pancreatitis attack this past weekend…of which
could be gallbladder related…or not…
And thus the mystery deepens.

Now the doctors seem to keep multiplying and the merry-go-round keeps spinning.

Occult blood means that blood is detected via the labs and not seen by the naked eye.
It raises flags and eyebrows by the medical world.

It seems they found occult blood—hence my sitting and staring at a urinary tract chart.

Before her death three years ago, when my aunt was diagnosed with kidney cancer,
she had had no symptoms, no clues… but she did have occult blood.

I will admit, that despite my feelings that my third visit to this particular specialist’s
office was just a waste of time and money, a slight worry did gnaw at the back of my mind.

Thankfully, my non-medical expertise was correct…
All was indeed well…
all but a small kidney stone that has been in the same kidney in the same
spot for the past 4 years.

It is, however, the looming MRI in two weeks, the doctor’s appt on Thursday, what tests
will be added, and the other doctor appointments following the MRI—
all of which will hopefully be more telling.

Casting a bit of light into the darkness so to speak.

It’s not that I’m worried.
I just want to know, finally, what is what.
And then, how to go about dealing with the what.

That’s what doers like to do—they want to know what is what and then what to
do with that what.

However, I am a bit aggravated riding this merry-go-round of the medical world.
It is slow and it is time-consuming.
Yet I suppose many of us will all ride the merry-go-round at some point sooner or later
in our lives.

I couldn’t help but marvel in the day’s verse that came my way…
“Do not be anxious about anything…”

Those words echoed in my mind as I sat on that exam table.

Amen..be not anxious.
Prayer and thanksgiving…

Fast forward to the day’s end.
The day’s news is unfolding as I type, while missiles now fly across the skies in Iraq.
Breaking alerts keep interrupting the evening’s quiet…

My thoughts race back to that verse—
I took it as a fine-tuned spoken word for me today as I sat staring at that medical chart,
waiting for an unknown scope.

So now I cling to those same spoken words as this Nation sits wondering and waiting.

Do not be anxious—petition, pray and give thanks.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

A double take on New Years…

Happy New Year!!!
We enjoy.
We rejoice.
Some of us recover.
Some of us ready for some football…

But as we do so…perhaps we must do so with one eye glancing sideways…
or perhaps, is that backward?

Let me explain.

Yesterday morning I had an appointment at the urologists
for a CT scan.
On New Year’s Eve of all day’s…

Long story.

I had gotten up early, already putting a nicely seasoned Boston Butt on the grill for
an all-day smoking. Bowl games were to begin at noon and the Mayor and the Sheriff
were scheduled to come.

I then readied and headed over to the doctor’s office to be there by 9.

I was surprised at how crowded the waiting room was so early.
Looked like I’d be there a while…sigh.

Backing up our story, before even having gotten up that morning…
sleep had been elusive during the night.
Tossing and turning, unable to stay asleep, at 4:30 in the morning I heard a breaking news alert.
Then an hour later, another alert.
Gees, I knew something bad was taking place someplace in the world…

At 6, hoping not to wake my husband, I finally reached for my glasses to see
what in the heck was exactly going on.

It was the US Embassy in Baghdad…and oddly enough it seems it was the Iranians who
were to blame…UGH!

It was when I was in college that I seem to recall trouble with Iran–going back
to the Carter Administration.

A sense of Deja vu crept over me as I read the story and then of the President offering
a strong and swift response.
What would that look I wondered?

Back then in 1979 ‘college’ students had stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and had taken
52 Americans hostage.

I remember one of my roommates vowing not to shave her legs until
the US Embassy hostages were released
Her personal showing of solidarity…
Her wait would be well over a year.

Those were very tense times in our Country…
We all had quick lesson regarding ayatollahs and what religious regimes looked like.

Before the hostages were released, Reagan would be elected as Carter was
to be a one-term president.

Being from Georgia, I was never a Carter fan…from the time he was Governor to the
time he was elected president.

It would be Reagan who would become the president.

Flash ahead to the waiting room where I sat, oddly enough, waiting on New Year’s eve.
I decided to check the news to see if there was any more regarding the US Embassy…
I spied the following headline, thinking it was a story from a time that once was…
but then I caught the word “tweet” and I knew this seemingly half-century-old story
was actually a current story…as in are you kidding me?!

Russia-Poland row over start of WW2 escalates

And so I read the story…

And then I knew— some things will obviously sadly, and even frighteningly, never change…

Add the fact that Putin, whose father served under Stalin,
is working to resurrect the ghost of Stalin past, is well…certainly disturbing
yet oddly not surprising…

Then throw in the fact that Poland and the ‘Allies’ (aka EU) are now near 80 years
later fussing over who started WWII is only more fodder for my day’s Deja vu…

So happy New Year…but just know that some things will never change…
as history continues repeating itself…

(from the BBC)

A row between Russia and EU countries over the causes of World War Two has escalated,
with a top Russian official condemning the US ambassador to Poland.

Parliament Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said a tweet by Ambassador Georgette Mosbacher was
“insulting” to Russians and Americans.

On Monday she tweeted:
“Dear President Putin, Hitler and Stalin colluded to start WWII.”

President Vladimir Putin says Poland and its allies are distorting history.

During a marathon news conference on 19 December,
the Russian president said it was “totally unacceptable and inaccurate”
to cast equal blame on Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
for the war’s outbreak.
Mr Putin said he had requested Soviet archive documents in order
to write an article on the subject – Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 –
and, in his view, to set the record straight.
He argued that the Western powers and Poland had appeased Hitler’s aggression by letting
him grab Czechoslovakia in 1938.

The Nazi invasion of Poland came just a week after Hitler’s
Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov
had signed a non-aggression pact on 23 August 1939, which stunned the world.
A secret clause in the pact carved up Eastern Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence,
allowing the two dictators – one fascist, the other communist – to occupy and dismantle Poland.

Ms Mosbacher’s tweet recalled that Poland was a victim of the two dictators.
But Mr Volodin, who is close to Mr Putin, said the US state department ought
to make sure that an ambassador such as Ms Mosbacher had sufficient knowledge
of a country’s history before sending her to work there.

Mr Putin has revived wartime Soviet symbols, and portraits of Stalin are commonly
displayed in Russia now.
In 2020, the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany
will be marked.

More than 20 million Soviet citizens died in what Russians call the “Great Patriotic War”
after the Nazis invaded the USSR in 1941.
Mr. Putin’s father served in Stalin’s NKVD secret police and was severely wounded in the war in 1942.

President Putin argued that Stalin had tried to forge an anti-Hitler alliance with Britain,
France and Poland, but that the Munich Agreement in 1938 –
dooming Czechoslovakia – had scuppered that plan.
Stalin then had to reach a deal with Hitler, feeling betrayed by the West, he argued.

However, Western historians point out that the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
meant Hitler did not have to fear a clash with the USSR if he invaded Poland,
so giving him the assurance he needed.
Moreover, Stalin then supplied the Nazi war machine with raw materials,
which helped fuel – literally – Hitler’s aggression against Western Europe.
How has this row escalated?

Monday, 30 December:
Besides the tweet by the US ambassador, Germany’s ambassador to Poland – Rolf Nikel –
also wades into the row, tweeting:
“The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact served to prepare the criminal invasion of Nazi Germany
against Poland. The USSR together with Germany participated in this brutal division of Poland.”

29 December:
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki issues a statement accusing
Mr. Putin of using the World War Two issue as a means to cover up recent international
setbacks for Russia, such as the sports sanctions imposed over Russian doping.
Mr. Morawiecki says “President Putin has lied about Poland on numerous occasions”.

27 December:
Poland’s foreign ministry summons the Russian ambassador to protest,
recalling that the war began with the Nazi-Soviet pact,
and that Poland lost about six million citizens in the war.
Earlier, Mr. Putin had scorned Poland and Western powers for appeasing Hitler
and had labelled Poland’s ambassador to Berlin in the 1930s an “anti-Semitic swine”.

19 September:
A European Parliament resolution – politically significant, but not a law –
urges EU states to “make a clear and principled assessment of the crimes and acts
of aggression perpetrated by the totalitarian communist regimes and the Nazi regime”.
It describes the war as “an immediate result” of the infamous Nazi-Soviet deal in 1939.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50955273

norovirus yet no cruise

Tuesday morning we received a call from our son that work had sent him home due to being sick…
really, really, sick.

A high fever along with the inability to stay out of a bathroom.

He was off to see his doctor.

We got another call later that it was not the flu… but…..
The doctor told him that if he was no better by the afternoon, he needed to go to the ER.

I think when your doctor sees you and then tells you to go to the ER,
things must be getting out of hand.

Next call… he was in the ER.

So off we went to rescue the Mayor and Sheriff, or maybe we were rescuing their mom…
either way, we were the cavalry riding in for the rescue.

I did consider donning rubber gloves, a surgical mask along with a bottle of Clorox for
the drive over.

We went and rescued the children from the Big House, the Pen, the slammer…aka daycare.
Next we did the grocery store run and finally the pharmacy.

The ER called with the following day with the lab results…
The Norovirus…
the bane of anyone who likes to frequent the cruise world.

And here we were with none of us having been near a cruise ship and yet we were living
with the same associated misery…
pity…

The kind ER doctor thought to email the CDC’s Norovirus fact sheet…

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Anyone can get infected and sick with norovirus.
You can get norovirus from:
Having direct contact with an infected person
Consuming contaminated food or water
Touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth

Outbreaks are common
The virus spreads very easily and quickly
Norovirus spreads:
From infected people to others
Through contaminated foods and surfaces
Outbreaks can happen anytime, but they occur most often from November to April.

The culprit, in our case, was most likely from last week when the Mayor took ill
as the ER doctor said cruise ships were not the only hotbeds… daycares were also
a highly likely suspect.

We are finally back home as everyone seems to be on the mend… for now…
and I just pray we are spared!!

Meanwhile the Mayor liked her watch that her watchmaker ‘Da’ brought her
and the Sheriff continues to practice his push ups…

The Church at Angoville

(another re-post D-Day tribute…
May we always remember that the success at the invasion of Normandy,
and the eventual ending of WWII in Europe and later in the Pacific,
was not so much a matter of great men doing certain things great nor of making
great decisions but rather it was the matter of ordinary men and women doing
ordinary things that would become,
in the end, great things that continue to affect us today—
and we are the better for it and are a free people to this day because of those ordinary folks!)

“All my life I made it a matter of principle to tend all soldiers
equally whatever their uniforms could be. I could not say to the Germans:
“You sit there and if you are bleeding to death. I don’t care”

Army Medic Robert Wright


(Église Saint-Côme-et-Saint-Damien d’Angoville-au-Plain..
the humble church at Angonville / Julie Cook / 2018)

Despite it being September 22 it was an unusually cold and blustery day…
or so it seemed for our little group of four from both Georgia and Florida.
However, this was Northern France, just inward from the North Atlantic coast.

The rain came in spurts…sometimes blowing sideways, sometimes merely misting.
The temperature was in the low 50’s but the howling 35 mph gusts made it seem much colder.

Somber weather for a somber day.

Our driver turned the van we were calling home for the day around a sharp corner along
a quiet narrow street as we came to a stop on a gravel drive just aside a large
ancient oak.

We exited the van, with umbrellas in hand, huddling together, as a small group of 5—
the four from Georgia and Florida and one from Holland who now made
Normandy, France his home as we readied ourselves for something that we all
sensed was going to be so much greater than ourselves.

The guide’s name was Mike.
Mike Van Den Dobbelsteen with Bayeux Shuttle Service.
Mike is a Dutchman who has a nearly perfect British accent…
but of course, this particular day was his 12th wedding anniversary…
his wife hails from England which helped to explain his heavy British accent.

His enthusiasm and depth of knowledge regarding history…in particular this history
was immense.

It was still early in our day’s adventure,
although having just come from the German Cemetary in Normandy,
we now found ourselves standing outside the doors of an extremely humble
little stone church.

A church that would be easily overlooked by passerbys.
A church that harkened back to a different time.
A church that was named for two martyrs who had actually been medical doctors.
An odd coincidence given the role this church played during a day that changed
our world’s history.

The beginning of this tiny church dates back to the 11th century, to 1088 to be exact…
but it was what happened in the middle of the 20th century, 9 centuries following the
inception of this church, that actually puts this church on the map of modern history.

As we stood gathered under the large tree shielding us from the cold pelting rain,
my eyes immediately gravitated to the dark granite cross-like marker standing stoically
on the grounds of this seemingly humble French church.

Toccoa.

My uncle and aunt had made Toccoa, Georgia their home for nearly 50 years.
It was in that small northeast Georgia town in which my cousins had spent their
childhood growing up…
Was there some sort of a connection between this tiny town in northwestern France and that
of the North Georgia town bearing that stone cross’s inscription?

Yes.

Yes, there was indeed a connection.

In the early 1940s, Toccoa, Georgia found itself home to the World War II
“Screaming Eagles” paratrooper corps.
E Company to be exact.
E Company was based at Camp Toccoa, a rustic training base located in
northeast Georgia that operated from 1942 through 1945.

It was that same E Company which trained in Toccoa, Georgia that would find itself
falling from the sky on June 6, 1944, into and around the tiny French Village of
Angonville-Au-Plain. A far cry from the north Georgia skies where they had practiced
for this very moment.

The French Village Angoville-au-Plain lies between St-Côme-du-Mont and Vierville,
at the D 913 in Normandy. It is a small village with at its center a small church.
The village was part of DZ (drop zone) D in June the 6th 1944.
Drop zone D was the most southern drop zone of the 1st and 2nd Battalion,
501st PIR (Klondikes) of the 101st Airborne Division.
The first 48 hours after the jump heavy clashes found a place between American
paratroopers and German Fallschirmjäger, which are rather elite German airborne infantry.

By Guido Wilmes
Translation Thijs Groot Kormelink

Mike offered us a briefing regarding the Nazis who had hunkered down in and
around this tiny village as well as the allied airdrop of paratroopers who had
floated out of the sky behind enemy lines…

This was to be the first line of a hoped-for offensive.

“Serg. Jim Cox was fighting at Angoville with 52 Paratroopers.
The shelling by mortars and 88 mm guns were so violent that they decided to rejoin
the command post of Bob Sink.

The area of the church at Angoville changed hands several times.
When the Germans arrived in the village they saw the Red Cross flag at the door of the church.
Noticing that German casualties [that] were lying on the pews together with the paratroopers
[so] they left.
The church protected by the Red Cross remained a heaven [haven] of peace
in the middle of a battle.

(excerpt from a brochure provided by the city of Angoville-Au-Plain/
brackets are my corrections)

The impromptu medical clinic was manned by two American airmen, members of the Toccoa
Screaming Eagles, who had only a month’s worth of medical training between them.
75 badly wounded men, both American and German, were under the care of these two haphazard
medics—
Medic Robert Wright and Private Kenneth Moore.

“Robert Wright and I, said private Kenneth Moore, a stretcher bearer,
were the only once to look after the casualties in the church of Angoville.
In the evening we had got 75 of them.
Our own folk had come to tell us that they could not stay any longer.
So we were left alone with the wounded soldiers.
A German officer soon arrived.
He asked me if I could tend the Germans as well.
We accepted.
During the night the churchyard was the scene of a battle.
Two of our casualties died.
But among those I could tend, none lost their lives.
I tended all sorts of wounds, some were skin-deep but others were more serious
abdominal cases.”

The blood stains, stains that soaked deep into the wooden pews,
remain clearly visible all these 74 years later.

It is said that the two medics would move the more critically wounded to the front of
the church in order to be near the altar of as they wanted these men to
find a sense of peace should this be their last night on earth.

At one point two German soldiers, who had been hiding in the loft of the church, came down a
side set of stairs holding arms high in the air as they attempted to surrender
to these two bewildered American medics.
They told the German soldiers that there was no time for surrender…they needed them to go
out and fetch some fresh water as they needed their help tending to the wounded men.
The German soldiers willingly obliged.

As I type my recollection of this emotional visit with its surreal story,
I feel the warm tears filling my eyes.

There are so many links to a wide array of sites (some I’ve listed below) that can tell
the story of Angoville with greater detail than I can.
Those who are much more knowledgeable than I…

I wish I could somehow convey the tremendous emotions…emotions from humility to gratitude
that now fill me as I try to share and convey this individual tale…an individual story of
duty and humanity that is but one out of thousands of tales during this particular time of madness.

It makes me feel very very small…and given our current days and time…
I think we might all benefit from feeling small.

The fact that two men who fell woefully short in medical training saved all but two
of the men who were entrusted to their care…men from both sides of battle,
all the while behind enemy lines is short of miraculous.

As miraculous was the fact that a mortar came crashing down through the roof of this tiny church’s
ceiling landing in the middle of and sticking with a thud smack dab in the center of
the ancient slate floor…

A mortar that did not explode.

Had it exploded, as it should have, the church would have been leveled and all the men killed…
leaving the village of Angoville as just another forgotten causality of war.

Some say it was the saints Côme and Damien who watched over this motley crew of wounded
soldiers and hapless caregivers.

“What allowed that medic to hold for 72 hours without food and rest?
Wright later explained…”The simple concern of helping other people.
When you do something that is worth doing you don’t think of your own life.”

In 1999 Robert Wright made a pilgrimage back to this tiny church.
He noted that “the church at Angoville will never be on the list of the important
churches to be visited in Europe. Yet however small the building is,
it does not prevent God understanding where hearts and prayer are.
They were many in this place.”

Robert Wright passed away at the age of 89.
His wish was to be buried in the cemetery of the same small church where he
had worked alongside Kenneth Moore to save the lives of 80 men.

His grave is simple and yet speaks volumes in its simplicity.

Today there are only 53 people who remain living in Angoville-Au-Plain.
The local mayor asks those who visit to please remember the importance of this
special place.
I will be sending them a donation…the euros I brought home along with a US monetary donation.

I want to do so because places like Angoville are too important for us to simply allow them to
succumb to the fickleness of time…
because time has an odd way of making us forget what once was while we busy ourselves
so as to not see what will be but rather we allow ourselves to wallow in the current moment
which only hopes to swallow us whole.

There are two stain-glass windows which were installed not long ago which commemorate
the importance of this church.

</a

This will be the first of several tales that I’ll be sharing regarding the big retirement
adventure trip which focuses on the real reason for the trip…that being the visit to
Normandy, France, and the D-Day Memorials…

https://www.rockdalenewtoncitizen.com/news/local/a-veteran-s-story-the-little-church-that-could/article_47f87fc0-5330-554b-8326-4b8cb975a3d9.html

501st Aid Station in the church of Angoville-au-Plain

https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2018/august/28/toccoa-georgia