Dichotomy of Life


It is the calm after the storm here in St. Louis this morning. There is a bright ball of glow to the east of my home. Glancing through my back window, a cloudless ocean sky, casting slight shadows of tree limbs across the snowy hill behind my brick bungalow. I feel snug, cuddled in my bathrobe of valentine-colored hearts. From inside, the outside looks warm and toasty. A dichotomy between 1 degree and heaven-sent rays of shining sun. The sky begins to cast light upon snow-covered sprouts of spring grasses and freezing bushes nearby.

Sipping coffee here at my desk there is a “ping” that rings from my phone.  An important message to me? Yes, my youngest son has sent me a text. Three words, “At work safely!” I smile to think of him thinking of me.  It hasn’t always been this way. We’ve had our ‘ups and downs.’ He’s had his struggles in a world not always fair to him. He fought childhood wars, trying to save himself and others from what might have been.

Finally, after years of living with Chronic Conditions, the picture behind the camera developed for me. It was hard for me to understand, harder still for my youngest son to get through it all. He was an innocent, napping toddler of three when I disappeared with his little-older brother off to a hospital for days without word or explanation. Upon returning, normal life had disappeared. What was before was never more.

In my heart, my fledgling son ‘gets it’ now. All his time of life’s inner turmoil has led him to where he needs to be. It’s what I’m praying for…..part of God’s plan, you see. The job he started in this new year is going well for him. There is a positive change in the way he looks, how he carries himself, together with the way he speaks. He grins more often than before and has light in his lovely eyes.  Yes, I see. They, come alive! My son has met a girl. There seems to be a young woman in his life. He’s brought her to our home, something he hasn’t often done before. I like her and I’m hoping she likes me.

I’ve seen a dichotomy while living with Chronic Conditions. At least, between my own two sons. One has fiercely struggled on a physical level, yet seems to have been happy nearly every day, while the other has scratched and clawed while battling brawls seemingly impossible to win. And yet, now, I dare say he’s on his way.

As always, it is God who has a plan for my boys. He has blessed my oldest with life, and love, and happiness. My youngest has had to work a bit harder to discover the latter two. Perhaps, finally, it is his time now.

Three words I’ve read on a text fill my heart with hope.

“At work safely!”

*re-published from 3/3/14.

 

 

 

What a difference two years can make!

 

Life is Wonderful


February 29th, 1992…Leap Year. It was an extra day on the cartoon calendar pictured and pasted on our kitchen bulletin board. The news anchor of our local television station signed off the night before by reminding me to, “Have some family fun the next day!” Yes, I remember……No, I’ll never forget.

February 29th of that year began much like any other. Indeed, I did have something fun planned for our family.  We were going to spend the afternoon at the park. Our two young boys, ages six and four were up early and dressed. The breakfast dishes were washed, and handy snacks were already packed.

It was unusually warm in St. Louis for late winter in the year of ‘92. Beautiful and bright with skies painted royal blue. I remember daffodils bloomed beneath willow trees in the back of my yard.  They were splashed in colors of variegated canary yellow, dancing to melodies that sung through whispered breezes blowing beneath the trees. Later, I saw them everywhere. I clung to them as a sign of hope.

We never made it to the park that day. Only hours later my oldest son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Too weak to play with his little brother, he simply wanted to “go to sleep.” In a panic, my husband scooped him up, ready to race towards our pediatrician. Just before walking out the door, I turned to him from our kitchen window, the same one where daffodils had sung songs of miracles to me. “Make sure the doctor checks his blood sugar,” I stated, matter-of-factly.

Back then, I knew nothing about diabetes, nor of blood sugar.  Yet the words that I spoke to my husband did indeed come out of my mouth. They sounded strange, and monotone as if coming from a body suspended above. Looking back, those were God’s words, never my own. They were His words that saved my son’s life that day.

Much has happened since then, but it is a fact that Chronic Conditions brought me to WordPress over three years ago. Little pieces of me are in the posts that I write and share here. So, what are some of the lessons that I’ve learned in life? The most important one is to stay positive in the face of adversity.

If your child is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I’m not going to lie. It knocks the wind out of you. It hurts. Remember that it’s okay to cry. Share your feelings. Don’t keep them bottled up. Even today, I’m still learning….http://wp.me/p41md8-2D4

Most importantly, be strong and SMILE for the sake of your child. Children take their cues from their parents. Please be a positive role model, won’t you? They will forever set their childhood goals and dreams in life with you by their side. I promise things do get better. Technology has improved and will continue to get better every day in the future.

It’s been 24 years ago today since my son was diagnosed, “No, diabetes isn’t easy.” But, “Yes, his life is wonderful.” I am so very proud to be his mom, to call him my son….

In dedication to all of the children living with type 1 diabetes together with their families. My heart and blessings to you today, tomorrow and all of the days of my life.

Kim Gosselin

http://beyondtype1.org/

One Small Gesture Can Make a Huge Difference…


Pulling on my heartstrings. Please donate a single book (at least) to make a huge difference in the lives of children on the outside looking in.

Michelle Eastman Books

UPDATE-Children’s authors and lit lovers are giving BIG to help kids of incarcerated parents!

MARCHing Books to Kids launched just over a week ago, and children’s authors are already making a big impact.  Thanks to all of you who have donated books and told others about the initiative. 

The number of kids with incarcerated parents has increased nearly 80% in the last 20 years, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. More than 2.7 million children have a parent who is incarcerated, and parents of another 10 million children have been incarcerated at some point.  The experience can be profoundly difficult for children, increasing their risk of living in poverty and housing instability, as well as causing emotional trauma, pain, and social stigma.http://www.americanlibrariesmagazine.org/article/reading-inside

But, through programs like the Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa Storybook Project, some of that stress melts away when kids are able to…

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The Gift of My Father


*Note to Readers: I wrote this post nearly two years ago to the day. Things haven’t changed and if there was any way on earth possible, this is the gift I would choose to share with you.

If I could give all I knew one present for Christmas it would be an itty-bitty piece of my father.  I suppose many daughters think this about their own.  The lucky ones.  Mine is like no other man I’ve ever met or ever known.

My grandmother waited 36 years before delivering her, “only begotten son” on a snowy Christmas dusk.  It was near a cold, dark bay of Michigan during the year of 1932.  Five older sisters awaited his arrival, while an older angelic brother looked down from Heaven above. A younger sister of blonde and a baby brother lost were born during the years shortly afterward.  My father was always the only brother…his parent’s only son.

A humble man who has the kindest soul, my father is always loyal and true.  He’s taught me subtle, wise lessons in life.  As a young girl, I watched his gentle mannerisms while listening to his quiet words, soaking up hushed teachings like a dry sponge dropped in a Michigan millpond.  One of my father’s most repeated  lessons was, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”  Akin to the Bible, I guess.  It has stayed with me forever and always. Shortly after my own two boys learned their first few words, I passed it down to them together with tender hugs and faint kisses upon damp foreheads.   They are having their own little ones, now.  If the cycle continues it will be a lesson for their children as well.  It is the most important one of all.

Of course there were other teachings to be learned.  Important mental notes written in imaginary pencil from my father for me to follow.  Like, “How to live life with a positive attitude in spite of adversity,” or “To smile when your heart hurts,” and, “It’s okay to cry.”

Once, when one of my sons was very young and very ill,  I called my father in Arizona all the way from St. Louis.  Choking back tears I remember saying, “Dad, I don’t think I’m going to have him very long.”  He paused for a few seconds before finding the right words.  I don’t remember exactly what they were, but together with his quiet tone, my father calmed me down.  I hold that single moment deep down inside of me.  Today, it is here within the whole of my chest…near the inside of my heart where it will stay for all eternity.

My father has taught me lessons my whole life through.  We are both older now.  It seems he is my guide and advisor only if I ask him to be.  We value our time together more than ever before.  Like children on a playground who have been friends all of their lives or even before, we laugh and play.  Sometimes we swing on a rubber tire hanging from an old frayed, cream-colored rope.  Like babes again, feeling our heads dangling in the wind! Other days we walk slowly along a new path, discovering speckled rocks to help us find our way.

Last night, me and my father sat in a puffy, padded booth on a western patio. Surrounding us was the warmth of a golden desert sun setting deep into cocoa sand of a saguaro cactus land.  We talked for hours about nothing, telling stories while sharing jokes.  I sipped red wine from a glass of clear.  He drank more.  Older teeth opened wide revealing burgundy red.  I giggled, he laughed.  A head of thick hair…now grey, tossed back…like always…

“That’s my father,” I whispered aloud,  to no one except golden coyotes hidden in the distance of the desert there.

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Exhibit

Happy Christmas…..

The Model Girl


*Shopping for gifts yesterday among the hustle and bustle of the holiday chaos, I was reminded of a post I had written long ago. Words of it kept gnawing at the back of my mind the whole night through.  Please keep good spirits of the season within your heart, remembering that everything may not always be as it seems.

While shopping for a gift for my son’s birthday, I stopped at one of our major department stores.  You would recognize its name if given here.  It’s one of the mall’s Anchor stores.

Bending down to peer inside a case of clear glass, I was awed by its riches, a medley of valuables in all sizes and shapes.  I was quite intrigued by an array of special ball point pens.  Most were made from artful mosaic glass, with cases to match.   Lying next to them were sleeping lead pencils in beds of deep blue velvet.  Together, they created a beautiful display.  Like a painting that should have been hung on someone’s wall instead of hidden behind a case for the likes of you or me to see.

A trio of young women soon swooped by, nearly knocking me off my wobbly feet.  I was still low to the ground to see the unique treasures inside the case of clear.  None of the women stopped to apologize, instead they giggled and laughed, moving on their merry way.  Instinctively, I grabbed hold of the nearest thing to break my fall, leaving my DNA upon the showcase.  The police did not have to be called to dust for finger prints.  There they were in plain sight.

Quickly, a tall dark Model girl came rushing from behind the counter, her designated sales spot.  “Don’t touch the glass,” she scoffed at me!  “I’m sorry,” I answered back.  I was just admiring your pens.  A gift for my son,” I went on to say.   I thought about mentioning the three women who nearly knocked me over, yet I didn’t bother.  This Model girl’s main priority seemed to be cleaning the glass.  She sighed.  Clicking her tongue, she rolled her big brown eyes.  Quickly, she grabbed a white cloth together with her blue cleaner.

When the Model girl finished her task, I was about to ask to see one of the beautiful pens behind her spotless, clean case.  It was then that I noticed her eyes glistening with dampness.  I sensed something in her and in return she sensed something in me. Lowering my voice, I said, “I’m truly sorry that you’re having a bad day,” from behind the counter a few feet away.

Holding her head high, this lovely Model girl brushed back falling tears.  From behind the counter, a soft, pink tissue appeared.  Somewhere deep inside, she regained her composure, her strength.  In thinking back now, I don’t know how.  Reaching across the counter, she gripped my hand looking for comfort then. “I have breast cancer.  My surgery is tomorrow.”

I Am Rich! – by Mary D


Without trying to, Mary has found the reason for the season.

Kindness Blog

I am elderly and my health is not the best.

I am always amazed when I go out with my oxygen tank how many people smile at me warmly, open doors for me, or ask if I need help.

Truly, I believe most people have kind, loving hearts and are willing to share of themselves.

I have an abundant life –

I have a husband who has loved me and been a strong support in my life for 60 years. I have children and grandchildren who have grown into beautiful adults, I have a roof over my head and am warm in the winter weather, I have an excellent medical team who work to make me feel better and I live in an agricultural area and a lot of the food I eat is farm to table.   

Truly I have an abundant life for which I give thanks from…

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The Memory Journal


When I close my eyes, her smile is tilted slightly towards the sky, as if receiving a silent message meant for her soul alone.  She had an outward beauty of course, but her inward beauty was unsurpassed.  Calm in times of insurmountable struggles, tremendous trials and personal loss, she had an inner peace that gave her strength.  She was one of my father’s sisters who was diagnosed with a rare chronic heredity illness named, Friedreich’s Ataxia.  She was my special Aunt Joan.

Aunt Joan was a nurse by trade.  As a young woman, she took care of the sick and needy in a Michigan hospital.  She married a strict Lutheran Preacher with a dry sense of humor.  In turn, she became a minister’s wife who eventually bore and raised four children.  I often thought my mother was in a ‘race’ of sorts with her.  Together with my father’s other five sisters, they were forever having babies.  During family gatherings, some of my cousins and I peered under soft yellow blankets to catch the wrinkles of newborns cradled in their laps.  I was part of the older group.  It was our job to barricade running toddlers before they trashed our grandmother’s goods.  We were a lot like the “Kennedy’s” in that way, except our family was never rich or famous.

I don’t remember the order of such, whether Aunt Joan’s diagnosis came before or after her older sister, Helen.  They were fairly close in time, as I recall.  Either way, Aunt Joan was quite young.  I believe she learned of it soon after she bore her fourth and last child, a son.  She named her baby, Paul after my father who became his Godfather.   How difficult her life must have been, tending to four young children in addition to being the picture-perfect Pastor’s wife?  All this while living with such a devastating chronic condition?   If she ever questioned God, no one knew.  Instead, Aunt Joan was full of gentle smiles, taking her condition in stride while raising her brood of children proudly. Even after her body did not respond to her brain’s unmistakable commands, she persevered.  My aunt never complained.  Not ever.  Not after forty years or more.  Not even later in life when she lost her youngest son to a another chronic condition.  Life was not fair.

All of my aunts have given me exceptional gifts.  Life Lessons that can’t be learned by reading books or researching on a computer.  Growing up, I must have taken subliminal notes scribbled in invisible ink.  Lucky for me to have filed them away in a memory journal to be discovered during my own times of adversity.  Thank you, Aunt Joan.  For your life and the wisdom your shared with me.

Bless you together with your loved ones in heaven above.

English: My Heaven

Edited from one of my earliest posts 11/16/13 in dedication to my Aunt Joan

My Happy Place


*My Happy Place, visited often and again early this morning.  A post worth repeating filled with life lessons….

There is a familiar spot here in great St. Louis, where people flop inside or outside, leaving their troubles behind for another time.  Actually, this hang-out is located in a toy town called Kirkwood, about ten miles from the chocolate color of my dusty garage door.

When summer begins to wane the weather is perfect, like this time of year.  Today, barely a soul of young or old can be found inside the multiple front doors of the welcoming café.  Instead, eagle eyes scan the outdoor crowd, looking for any sign of movement in case an imaginary “Vacancy” sign pops up.  Deep breaths are taken.  Fresh air is inhaled while lungs expand.  Ahhh, relaxation begins!

It is here that a new discovery is made each and every time I visit.  Who would think that a simple, nondescript patio made of concrete cement would have such an impact on my life?  And, yet it does.  This is my Happy Place.  A corner of wired tables in black with matching chairs on top of grey.  Wait…take a seat, sit down to rest your feet.  Shhh, watch and listen.  This is a haven full of people who are living in the moment.

Do you see what I see?  There are mothers pushing strollers, babes in arms, Daddies giving horsy-rides and coffee cups made of china white.  Children riding scooters, chocolate milk clutched in little hands, bikers, joggers, bunnies in wagons and toasted bagels laden with cream cheese.  Kisses on cheeks, grandparents carrying toddlers, and dogs-of-all-kinds. Pacifiers in pink or blue, books being read and luxury leashes made of leather.  Working laptops, baked banana bread so good, couples on first dates, I-phones, singles and fountains splish-splashing.  Love is in the air, walkers, bottles filled with water, smiles, secrets and even bellies-SO BIG!

My husband clasps my hand to find me the best seat.  He pulls out my chair before inquiring what I’d like to sip and eat.  “A vanilla cappuccino,” he asks, expecting a “Y.E.S.” Next, his words so sweet, “A cinnamon roll warmed for you?”  He is the very best man and I am the luckiest of women.  Soon he comes back with my treats.

While nibbling, I stop to “people watch,” snap a few pictures, and meet new friends.  The sun feels warm to my skin, pinking my cheeks.  Next to me, I meet the cutest Labradoodle who excitedly poses for me.  And then, a “Hallmark” moment begins.

A few feet away, the sweetest girl of young reaches up and over on tippy-toes to kiss her loved one so dear.  She has long and lovely dark hair, wears shorts and seems to surprise the woman who is older than she.  My heart skips a beat.

Seconds go by.  The freshly kissed woman passes our table.  My husband smiles, pointing to our phone.  “Look,” he says, stopping her.  A gentle grin, big and wide slides over pretty, white teeth.  She is touched by what she sees, going on to tell us a bit about her lovely grand-daughter.

Looking across at her table, she notices more seats taken.  Chairs pulled out.  Tennis shoes underneath.  This time by her husband together with a darling, young grand-son wearing metal and leather braces strapped to thin legs.  Briefly, we talk about Chronic Conditions.  “He was born with club feet,” she says, speaking of her other darling one.  “He’s already had several surgeries,” she adds, “with more to come.”  She speaks matter-of-factly, with no hint of ‘woe-is-me‘ in her voice when she glances over at her loved ones.

There is no doubt, no question in my mind that this is where I am supposed to be.   Right now, right here at this moment in time.  A new Life Lesson for me today.  How special it is to have and hold this “Hallmark” tip-toed kiss upon a grandmother’s lips!  From an innocent grand-daughter to her loving grandmother.  A story of life trials chock full of smiles on this very morning.  Lucky for me.

No matter how brief, this will forever be “My Happy Place.”

Yeah 100 followers!


A very special person indeed!

Eric's blog

followed-blog-100-2x

I’m very happy I’ve hit my first milestone. It may not seem a lot, but to me it’s massive. Thank you to everyone who has followed and supported my blog especially Shamby who was my 100th follower. To celebrate I have updated my about page and replaced my awful picture with a more up to date awful picture. Now how to make it 1000…..

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Little Girl Lesson


She was there at the bus stop, waiting like the others.  Her bus was yellow too, but was smaller with a wheelchair lift in a grid of patterned, painted metal.  Cars were parked behind her mother’s older van.  One…two…three…waiting impatiently.

It was late spring in the coolness of warm weather-to-be.  Flowers and trees bloomed everywhere.  Pink and purple or double blooms of white, smelling fragrantly.  At the corner, children pressed buttons to roll down windows.   Heads of boys hung out side to see what the commotion was all about.  Girls who couldn’t care less, texted in back seats while chewing gum and clicking tongues.

Air, still damp wafted through hallows of vacuumed cars.  Birds in high, high branches tweeted songs from above, while warming engines shut down from below.   Healthy kids who took dancing lessons in afternoons or batted balls early in nights, didn’t know or understand what they waited for.

There was a hidden motor buzzing like baby bees helping to ‘lift’ a lower platform to the ground.  Suddenly, children’s eyes looked carefully.  They saw a young woman with a pony tail of glazed copper standing under a sky of blue together with a round of gold.  From the side, she guided forms of metal gently to the ground.

The aged van that was parked behind the mini yellow, held a dainty girl together with her waiting mother.  The van was grey in color with a magic sliding door that suddenly opened revealing a ‘lift’ much like the mini-bus of yellow.  Sitting on top was a miniature wheelchair holding a delicate child with skin of white and hair of red.  The ‘lift’ lowered her to the ground where her mother waited, protectively.  She brushed air curls of hair away, something simple that her daughter could not do with arms not able to work like yours or mine.

Other children who had walked, stopped to stare.  Not to tease or gloat or bully.  Without saying a word, the little girl sitting in the wheelchair spoke volumes.  In a matter of minutes, a major lesson had been taught.  Other children realized how lucky they were to run and jump and dance and play.  No more taking God’s gifts for granted!  Live life to the fullest each and every day.

Be thankful in every way.

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