Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Lady Had Strength

"Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all yea that hope in the Lord."
Psalm 31: 24

She was all lady with a classiness that set her apart to be admired but with a heart of love and compassion and empathy that drew people to her.
She was a sickly baby who had to have goat's milk.  Where and how her parents got it in Stuebenville, Ohio  (a mill town) in the1920's is a mystery to me.
She was a sickly child.
She ended up a strong woman with fibromyalgia, severe osteo arthritis, stenosis of the spine, and a major heart problem.
Did all these stop her from striving to be all that she could be?
She drew her strength from her Lord and Savior
and she passed that strength onto her daughter and granddaughter.

You've read about my father and many of you have written about how remarkable he was. But you've not heard about the remarkable woman who stood in the shadows a lot.  Dad ALWAYS gave her credit along with God for him being who he was.  "She's the strong woman bracing this man." 

 My brothers didn't see that, but I did.  I was the one who picked up the pieces of Dad after she died. I was the only one he allowed (after awhile) to hear or see him cry.  He resigned  his position as a retired pastor of a small church about 3 months after her death. He told me, "She's not at home waiting for me. (Mom was an invalid at this point).  I no longer have the strength to get up behind that pulpit.  And I especially can't handle the hassle and bickering at the meetings without her to talk to about it all.  She listened so well."

Mother was a great listener.  It was one of her strengths.  My long stories that bother my son, were never too long for mom. Even dad would get bored, but not mom.  And it wasn't feigned.  She "ate up" every word when one of us talked to her.

Mom was the one who dedicated her life to Christ first.  Then when dad did and was called into the ministry, she was the one who hounded the dean at Asbury College to give dad a chance (I do mean hound).  Dad's high school grades were less than satisfactory, but mom managed to get him in on probation..  Persistence? Yes, but strength also.  It takes strength to battle the system.

Mom had 2 rough deliveries--she almost died during one.  She was told she could not have any more children.  But they wanted a little girl badly.  So she persisted until 6 years after her second child she found a doctor willing to care for her.  During that pregnancy, she got rheumatic fever and was put to bed for 4 of the 9 months.  The rheumatic fever permanently damaged her heart. But she got her little girl: me.

She played piano at the little country church Dad pastored during his last few years in Kentucky.  When he was offered a two-point charge (two churches) in his home district in Ohio, they took it.  He transferred from Asbury Seminary to Pittsinia (sp?) Seminary in Pittsburgh.  He roomed with another fellow Asburian who was also back 'home.' They stayed in Pittsburgh through the week and came home on weekends.  Who ran the churches during the week?  The two wives. 

Dad told me in that last year we had together that it angered him how noone checked on her or offered any help.  "There she was, still recovering from the illness and your birth, raising 3 kids on her own during the week, and they expected so much of her as my wife; but they did nothing for her."  
I never knew that.  The only story mom ever told me about those days was when I got sick.  She never mentioned how she was treated or what was expected of her. 
She didn't blame people.

When I was two, I got a high fever and went into convulsions.  I was taken to the hospital where I went into a coma.  At one point, the doctors told mom and dad that I had a 50/50 chance of surviving.  They said they had done all they could; now it was up to God.  I guess my dad fell apart. Mom headed for the chapel where she promptly got down on her knees and prayed. 

She taught me many times throughout my life that strength is knowing when to admit our weakness and give it all to God.

"In the day when I called, You answered me; and You strengthened me with strength in my inner self."
                                              Psalm 138:3 (Amplified version)

Mom was diagnosed with fibromyalgia before it was called fibromyalgia.  She took a lot of 'heat' from doctors until someone admitted these symptoms, many women were having, were real.

But she didn't let on the toll it took on her.  After she died, I read something she had written. She was scolding herself for agreeing to drive me back to Asbury College (I got home some other way). She knew she would pay for it physically, because she had a full week ahead of her with her job and her duties as minister's wife. 

She told herself, "You know better."  I had no inkling and neither did anyone else because she got up and went about her life. (Mother called this figuring out what you could and couldn't do in the same week: pacing yourself.  I call it: compartmentalizing.)

My son recently asked me about how it all worked as far as his dad and me going on trips and grandma and grandpa taking care of them.  He was facing those issues.

I told him that Grandma would come and stay with him and his sister during the week and Grandpa would come get them for the weekend to be at church with him.  Once they were retired and lived 2 houses from us, Grandma would stay in our house with them at night. (Dad was simply too tall for our bed) and Grandpa would help out during the day.

But, from the very first trip, Grandma would have to take a day and just rest up.  By the time of the last few trips, watching them cost her 4 - 5 days.  I told him it was understood that I didn't let Sara and him go up there after a trip, because she didn't want them to see her in her house robe and perhaps realize how much
pain she was in. 

I told him that I had figured I would do the same some day.  But the divorce changed all that. (I now have to work and come August I'll be the one with the health insurance.)

Another story Dad told was about the pontoon boat.  Mom insisted they buy one and she regularly insisted he go out on it by himself or with his brother-in-law to fish.  He told me she would do that so she could have the house to herself and scream and cry with the pain. "Scared Muffy (the cat) quite a bit!"   I can't recall ever seeing her cry because of the pain.  She would cry out to God instead.

My one brother is really hard on her still to this day.  He has issues that he has not resolved.  He thinks she was selfish and self-absorbed.  I strongly disagree.

When the time came that riding in a car was pure hell for her, she still insisted on Dad taking road trips.  He continued to go to his WWII unit's reunions all over the United States.  He would take side trips to see places he had always wanted to see.  Meanwhile, she would be at home alone and she never made him feel guilty.  

She told me that when a person is suffering from a chronic illness, it's very important that the spouse get out and away from the house.  The worse thing you can do is make your spouse an invalid too.  I've never forgotten that.

Another very important gem she told me was that she felt pain whether she sat, stood, walked, or lay down.  Nothing eased it.  So she had decided that if she was going to experience pain anyway, then she was going to do what she wanted to do---live her life to the fullest.  She told me: "You have two choices: You can go to bed, pull the covers up over your head, and feel sorry for yourself. or You can get up, get dressed, do your make-up and hair, put your chin up, your shoulders back, and a smile on your face, and go live your life.  Either way the physical pain is there.  But with the second choice you also experience joy. " 

She believed that even though God may not take away the pain,  He will give you the strength to endure it, if you ask and believe.

On the days, when I hurt the most, I keenly remember those words---and ---I get up and get out of bed, dress, put make up on, do my hair, put my chin up, my shoulders back, and a smile on my face, and I go live my life.  Yea, it hurts. But oh the joy!

For more on strength, visit the Blog-Carnival.

One another note: I taught grammar this year and part of that was verb tense.  My kids struggled like a lot of people do(including me) with lie(to recline) and lay(to put something down).  It especially bugged them that the past tense of lie is lay.  That made no sense to them at all.  Since I used lay as the past tense of lie in my story, as an English teacher I just had to explain.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My course work is complete!

Halleluiah!  And I mean that because God got me through these courses.  I would get stuck on a question or an idea and just hand it over to Him.  Then I'd go to bed for several hours, and when I woke up I had the answer.  I communed with Him and praised Him.  Thank you to all who prayed me through this process--that was a source of strength for me.

Were the courses that difficult? No.  But to do them in the space of one week each when they were designed for 3 months minimum each---well that's making them difficult.  But as I've explained before, with my fibro, I have found that I have to compartmentalize.  If I don't, then I don't do anything well.

So the house looked like a bomb went off in it.  I gained weight from sitting so much, the bills and laundry piled up---well you get the picture.  Then the first one was complete and mailed.  I scurried around for two days cleaning, washing, finishing with my plants and mulching, paying bills, and then packing.

When I arrived in Cinci, I dropped the cats off and went to my fibro doctor's appointment.  She could tell immediately I had spired downward.  The new drug we were going to try is a 'no' for now.  It may help the pain, but it won't help the depression which often holds hands with fibro and I'd have to go off my current medication for that.  So we unanimously agreed. 
She thinks I need counseling.  That I've had too many deaths in the past several years and that I especially am still fragile about my dad's death.  Then I told her about losing Lexie and I of course teared up.  Then it hit me.  The depression set in right after she died.  One more death when I'm still reeling from the 'Big One'.  I'm not sure about the counseling. . .

Then the next day I went to the dentist.  I was supposed to get two crowns, but there was trouble in the one tooth---got sent immediately to an endocrinologist who determined that the designated tooth (the one to be crowned) was not the problem.  The one in front was---he decided that it was a fractured root canal and that it needed pulled--and that he thought implants were much better than bridges and---Whoah doggies!  I'm sitting there with my head spinning.  He's wanting to pull my tooth and then put an implant in!

When I flat out resisted, he told me I'd probably still end up needing a root canal several years down the road. . . . he lead me to say, "So I should just get the root canal now?"  Next thing I knew I went from sitting up in the chair to it being lowered and him settling in on his stool for an afternoon's work---after all, I had been sent to him for a possible root canal.  And that's when my head screamed at me, "Will you listen to your gut, please?!" So I said, "Wait. Too much has been thrown at me and I don't want to make any decisions right now.  Plus I want to talk to Dr. A. first."  This guy had also indicated he was ready to pull the tooth!  Oh no he was not!

So I went home and Dr. A. called and said to come in the next day and we'd figure it out.  He's not the type to criticize anyone--one of the nicest docs I know---but his tone said volumes when his response was, "I know." to my "He wanted to pull my tooth right then!"  I ended up with 3 fillings and no crowns and a wait and see.

[I did start my 'dentists day' with a pedicure by a close friend who's at a salon close by.  Wonderful!]

Back home (the Cinci home) to knuckle down on the second course---planned to pull an all-nighter and get it done.  My body said, "Nah, you're too old for that malarky." and I gave in and went to bed.  It took me several days, but on Sat. it was sent by Express mail.  I had to enlist some neighbor kids to fill out the worksheets, had to grade them, and make copies of EVERYTHING I did and was sending.

 At one point I had to walk away from it because I couldn't get the student work organized--it's the simple stuff that my fibro fog shuts my mind down on---and it's stuff like that, that makes others wonder,  "What's wrong with her? ( at least in my mind they do).  Anyhow I went and read some Psalms and had a nice talk with God.  My head cleared and I experienced success.  It was done.

 Then the state of Ohio informed me that I had until Sept. 1st--something my district withheld from me.  I had been told by a director of teachers' professional development courses at Walsh College here in Ohio (a reputable college) that I had until Sept.1st.  He said the school districts tell their teachers July 1st, but those who handle these courses know differently.

I didn't pursue this bit of info though, until I had all my work done except the student part of it.  Then I fired off an email and was shocked when I got a reply first thing the next morning--that's fast for the state education dept.  I was told to relax; that they deliberately give teachers the summer to get it all finished.  So, why was my district messing with me?   Please pray that it's nothing other than by putting pressure on, they were making sure it got done. (After all, no school wants to be trying to hire a teacher at the beginning of the school year.)

Now I'm sorting through the kitchen stuff to get ready to pack things up.  We'll be going back up to the other side for our traditional July 4th celebration at our little place at Sencea Lake. 

For now I'll leave you with some pictures.  I also do this to a kitchen when I'm baking--my mother had such poetic sighs after one of my baking marathons when I was a teen and using her kitchen. 

My companion most of the time. I got the desk chair and she got the recliner.

Sunday, June 27, 2010



Yes, after posting about his disappearance, last night he appeared. He disappeared Memorial Day weekend.

We had been out with the neighbors to a restaurant that has outside seating and live music--usually a duo.  We extended the night by sitting on the picnic table that is in the middle where our side yards meet.  D. had gone up to the street chasing her dog, and she starting screaming "Cat's back!"  I do mean screaming. I got her shushed up after the 3rd yell because it was after 11pm.  This cat had seen her and had sped across the street to her. (She would let him in our house too).  Then he started rubbing up against the tires of  M.'s truck.  I bent down and picked him up.  It looked like Cat, but I needed to get him to a better area to tell.  So I took him down and plunked him on the picnic table in front of M. Yep, it was Cat. He was quite happy to see his buddy M.

The kicker is he had a collar on with a bell; however there was no tag so essentially it was useless except to show that someone considered him their pet.  He was heavier--considerably. 

So this is what we finally agreed on: Cat's new 'owners' had decided to keep him inside. Somehow, he got out and hightailed it back to M.  After all, M. let him run. Cat's a hunter and often (really often) M. would come home to find Cat calmly sitting on the stoop with a tail hanging out of his mouth as he chewed the rest of the salamander or mouse.  He ate them.  There wasn't any prize for M. to throw away--not with Cat--he ate them. He still ate dry cat food and would always run downstairs to the laundry room at the sound of the clinking of a can of 'wet' cat food--even though that meant being shut up for the night. 

To keep Cat inside is against his nature. So when he got the chance he went back to Care and  FREEDOM!.  He purred continually while M. stroked his fur.  He was in our driveway by then.  But there came a point when Cat had enough petting and strode to the door that connects the garage to the downstairs.  Uh-Oh!   My two cats were inside, remember?!  Cat did not know this and gave M. this look like, "Are you being dense here or what?  Let me in my house!" 

                                Mike went over and picked him up.  But he wanted down and in the house.

We ended up opening the inside front door so the tightly shut glass storm door would be a barrier.  Cat leaped up the steps and . . . Screech! . . came to an abrupt halt.  On the other side of the glass door was George.  Scruffy had seen Cat coming and taken off.  Not George. He puffed up and stood guard.  No tomcat was coming near his sis or in his house! So there was a stand-off.  Cat was puffed up too.  Scruffy finally came up and peeked around the inside door, but kept George between her and Cat.  M. was trying to get Cat to come over to him, but uh-uh! Cat gave him this look-- you can imagine.

Eventually I went in and shut the inner door.  I had to get George calmed down and fed so I could give him his insulin shot. I brought some canned food out to Cat. He'd already eaten some dry.  He ate most of it, then went down the steps and jumped up on M.'s old Porshe (that he plans to restore when he's back up in B'ville for good).  That's where Cat stayed.  M. put the two dishes of dry and canned food and a bowl of water up on the Porshe and laid out Cat's favorite sleeping pad.  Then everyone went in to bed.  When M. got up at 8:30am, Cat was gone.  He has not returned.  M. is fine with that.  More importantly D. and her daughter know that Cat didn't die because they weren't around to let him in that weekend.  Actually we all feel better knowing that a car or coyote didn't get him and that someone is caring for him. 

                                                  It's someone else's turn now.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The abandoned cat that found a home

One afternoon, the neighbor called to me, "Is that Scruffy?"  He pointed to my dad's car (we had not sold it yet--it took me months before I could let it go) where hovering in front of the back wheel was a gray striped cat.  I knew Scruffy was miles away in B'ville being cared for by a neighbor.  I crouched down and it came to me immediately. It was so skinny.  I gave it some cat food and watched as it literally gulped the equivalent of a small handful down over and over.  My cats nibbled one morsel at a time. Not this cat--he shoveled and gulped---he was starved!
It was obvious in all sorts of ways that he'd been a pet. To make a long story short, we discovered that his owners had abandoned him as they just "up and left" one night.  He settled in here with my husband.  I had only intended on feeding him, but not totally adopting him. Then one night there was a terrible storm--a downpour with lightning and thunder.  M. let him in. 
From the other side of the state, I gasped over the phone, "You did what?"  M. wasn't one to take in strays.  His response, "I couldn't leave him out there in that storm!"
We never found out his name and my practical husband just called him Cat, which seemed fine with the cat.
As you can see, he settled in:

Then the stories began.  M. would tell me Cat's latest favorite spot--his routine--his quirkiness.

For example: Every morning this was the state of the bathroom while M. got ready:


Then as winter came, Cat got attached to the kerosene heater that M. kept on in the living room.

M. has a habit of tossing the parts of the newspaper on the floor after he has read them.  When he's finished reading, he gathers the paper up.
Cat liked the paper.

Cat was at home here.

The ritual Cat established was he would go meet the neighbor when he got home from work and the neighbor would let him in our house (M. wasn't due for 3 more hours).
This was cool with M.  When he came up to visit me at B'ville, the neighbors would let Cat in and out of the house.  The neighbor girl got paid for setting out the food and water and letting Cat out before she went to school and making sure he was back in before she went to bed.
Then came the weekend when cat didn't come back to be let in.  He disappeared. 
When M. arrived home, the girl was distraught. Cat had never returned. M. gave him that night and the next day. Then when M. came home from work  and still no Cat, he went looking for a dead body or the remains of one.  Woods border the back of our property and we have coyotes (they are appearing in many suburbs of Cincinnati). He had a sturdy box to put him in.  But no body, no remains.
It's been 3 weeks and still no Cat.
M. took it fine.  I think he was dreading the time when I would have to take him and have him put him down.  You see he had FIV (the feline version of HIV) and he could never be put with my cats.  My cats would not welcome him and all it takes is one bite and he could infect mine.
You can't give a cat away that has FIV and we weren't going to abandon him. M. moves up to B'ville this August and our house here in Cinci goes on the market.
So we can only hope that Cat died quickly or perhaps sensed something and let another family take him in.(It's obvious we're moving ---furniture is 'disappearing' and boxes are 'appearing'.
Cats are not stupid.
Meanwhile, my cats are back here.  I couldn't expect my neighbor to give two insulin shots a day to George and I hadn't figured out what I was going to do, because I couldn't bring them around Cat.
But now that Cat's gone, I could.  My vet gave me sedatives that I could squirt in the side of their mouths.  The sedatives worked quite well --it didn't knock them out, but neither did George stridently meow for 4 straight hours. Praise God!

As you can see, George and Scruffy  have settled in.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Water, come out, come out, wherever you are!

                                 Okay, water: Come out, come out, wherever you are!

There you are! Now if I can just get my tongue in the right spot.


There---I did it!

Ahhhh---it tastes so good!

I'm happy to report that George has been taking his insulin shots well and I have not stuck myself once.
I took him to the vet for the one month check up and  he's at 412, down from 500.  The norm is somewhere around the 250 mark (as usual I forget), so he has a ways to go.  But he gained a pound.  I upped his dose from 1 ml to 2 ml on the syringe last Thursday. On Sunday for the first time in 5 weeks, he ran into my bedroom, wholeheartedly jumped on the bed, and meowed (demanded) I pet him ( this has been the morning ritual for several years, but he hasn't felt like doing it.)  I laughed with joy!
His sis likes when I get the syringe out because it means  they both get some canned food, her brother gets stuck with a needle, and then they both get TREATS! She gets the Yummy! But not the needle--yea!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Big Roy/ Dad/Pop/Papa Roy/Grandpa Roy/ ROY

I have much to do before I leave for Cinci and a week of doctor appointments and packing up the pieces of our live that remain at that house. It's time to move them.
But it's imperative (to me) that I take a moment on this Father's Day to pay a tribute to my wonderful--fabulous dad.
He would have been 87 this past Wednesday.
I've written about him before and will write more in the future, but for now I'm simply going to put up a montage of uncropped pictures that are on my computer.  (I plan to take a box of pics to Cinci and have my IT husband help me put them on my computer.)
Here's to Rev. Hilliard/Rev. Roy/The Rev/Big Roy/Dad/Pop/Papa Roy--by my kids/Grandpa Roy--by my grandkid/Roy and ROY (when mom was scandalized at something he said--she was really secretly amused though)---
Love you Pop and Miss you More than Words can Say.

He was singing to her "Tru la la. . ."-my kids and grandkids know it well--nothing better that resting against Grandpa Roy and having him sing to you.
My son cut his hair for years. This was less than a month before Pop joined mom in Heaven.
My daughter hung these in a special place: her Grandma Shirley and Papa Roy
Sara and her husband Jory
One of my regrets is not taking a picture of her on her Grandpa's lap the July of the year he left. We had all our immediate family at our place at the lake.  Pop got ill that day.  Sara was to fly back to Texas and didn't know whether she would see him again.
So she went in, sat on his lap, hugged him, and told him she loved him.
He told me later that she just sat there with her head on his shoulder like when she was little.
He teared up--that gesture meant the world to him.
(Never underestimate simple gestures and never let age stop you from doing them.)

Finally: a tribute to two of  "The Greatest Generation" --both WWII vets --both immensely respected members of their community---both incredible husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, friends . . .both adored and missed by MANY!
                                                         Tom Mosser and Roy Hilliard
                                            My son's father-in-law and grandfather at the baptism of my son's wife, daughter, and step-son.  They were good friends and left us within just a few days of each other.

 His grandfather baptised them--his last official ministerial act.  A church was "loaned" to us.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sat. morn

There were 4 separate packets with15 extensive questions in each of  the first two, a 3-4 page essay with strict margins, spacing, and font as the third part, and then for the fourth part I had to devolop five days of EXTENSIVE lesson plans using a minimum of 3 stories. I put down 20 hours total, but I know I had much more time in it.  That was a decent approximate estimate.
I actually learned a lot from it and enjoyed doing it (would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if not on such a short deadline, but that's on me).

This is what it all looked like when I was done.  I mailed the big course this morning.  The little one will go out Tuesday morning.  I have to have some real students (ooops--school's out!) and I can use my neighbors' kids in Cinci (4 high school sophomores) ---we're close friends and the kids will oblige since it's not an actual school assignment for them.
I took way too long doing it.  I"m an English teacher---I can't just slap something together for a passing grade, shrug my shoulders, and move on.  My "integrity" is at stake (at least in my mind).
Pray that it will get graded quickly.  And believe me, God has shown me some important points about myself and my fears and my fibromyalgia.  I'm learning!
So I mailed it.  I was going to take a picture of our quaint Post Office and instead my camera case, which was open,  "allowed" my camera to fall out of the case, out of the car, and onto the pavement.  It did not want to take any pictures after that!
But before I went to the Post Office, I went to our Farmer's Market (without my camera which I left in cloth bag that I should have kept it in, setting on my kitchen counter.
But I did take some pics of some of the goodies before leaving for the Post Office.  Planned to take more later, but-----no camera.

Big onions, huh?!

Rhubarb pie--just rhubarb--tastes like apple. As you can see, I've already tasted it!  The woman who makes it is married to the man who grew the onions.  His grandmother is the one we bought the house from.  (She turned 92).  Anyhow, small world--especially in a small town.
I'm out to work with my flowers.
Blessings to you all!