As Long As You Both Shall Live….


“As long as you both shall live.”

*Those are the last words I remember hearing thirty years ago today, May 19, 1984. A few seconds later, I smiled beaming with the words, “I do. Although only a step or two away from me, the minister’s gravelly voice seemed to echo from far, far away. Off in the distance….perhaps bouncing off trees in a lush forest land.

At the time, I had eyes and ears only for the husband to be. There he stood, facing me. His green eyes pierced the blue of my own while he gripped my hands, squeezing them. It was his signal before God that we would always be together. My soon-to-be husband would take care of me, protect me, love me, and be loyal and true. Thirty years later he has proven this together with much more good than I ever imagined.

On our beautiful, warm wedding day in May, the two of us had no idea where the road of life would lead. A fantasy land we did not expect. Nor, the reality we ended up living. Still, neither of us would change a thing. In the end, we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.

When families raise a chronically ill child, there is a 75% or greater chance the marriage will end in divorce. My husband and I raised two children living with chronic conditions. Both were diagnosed at very young ages within six months of each other. Our odds of divorcing might have increased a bit at that point…

My husband traveled a minimum of 120 nights a year over a 20 year period as a district manager for an eye care company. He loved his job while I loved it for him. Still, it took a toll on the two of us. When the days and nights were added up, seven years of our marriage were spent apart from one another. I often resented him for being away, while he often resented me for being able to stay. Eventually, we both had breaking points.

When needed, my husband was there for me, taking a short leave of  absence from work. He jumped right in, took care of our boys, washed clothes and even learned to cook! In return, I did the same for him when the time came. Isn’t that what couples do for one another? We sought outside help to work on our marriage…more than once. No, it wasn’t always easy. I guess that’s why it’s called work. But, early on, we decided our marriage was worth it….we were worth it. For our children, for our family, for the whole of us.

There are lessons learned that I’ll pass on to others now that I have the opportunity. Take time…any time for couplehood. A walk in the park, a cup of coffee or a simple hour to hold hands and talk. No, not about the kids! Do not lay blame…ever! It’s okay to cry, go ahead and ask God, why? Find a church, ask for help, don’t be proud, seek support, tell a friend, and take a break for heaven’s sake!

Today as I celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary, I am thankful for the best husband one could ever wish for in life. I thank God for every hardship we ever endured, every lesson ever learned. How wonderful to have lived through ALL of the good times and the bad, the happy and the sad. We have such an enormous history together. Rich, full of memories and moments with more to come, God willing.

Happy Anniversary to my dear husband, with love, forever and always….

*Two years ago when I wrote this post originally, my husband and I were not able to officially celebrate our milestone anniversary. This year, we’re away for a few days, soaking up the sun and sand while celebrating 30 years + two! Blessings to all of you.

 

We Are Family


Feeling a bit like I’ve been shot through a wind tunnel or perhaps lived through an episode of the old Twilight Zone series, I am here in my office today. Hoping to catch up, but knowing better. My mind is spent. The last few days have been a rollercoaster ride.

Last Friday, I flew from my St. Louis home to attend my father’s wedding celebration in Phoenix. He was married on March 11, discovering 16 days later in a sterile Emergency Room that his bride’s body was riddled with cancer. Only a few hours earlier that day, I had called them both to wish them, “Happy Easter.”

My father and his wife, Eileen planned a wedding celebration before her diagnosis of cancer. Close family and friends had been invited. The room was reserved. Their favorite one-man-band was all set to play and sing, and the food was carefully chosen and ordered. Together, they decided the party was going to take place, regardless. It gave them hope, something to look forward to.  A goal in the future. Eileen had started treatment and was feeling pretty good. Things seemed optimistic going into the weekend of the party.

My father’s only living sibling flew in from Michigan to surprise him. My husband and I picked her up from the airport and arranged for her to stay with us at the same hotel. Upon landing in Phoenix there was a voicemail telling me that my father was on his way to ER with Eileen. And so, the rollercoaster ride began. Emotions ran high for everyone.

The next day, we were able to see my father and Eileen’s new little house for the very first time. She was resting in a chair near the patio. A card table and two chairs were placed near the open screen door. Sun was shining, cactuses were blooming and grasses were green in between desert coral sands. Their dog, a miniature collie never left Eileen side.

In the end, Eileen was too weak to attend her much-anticipated wedding celebration. My father came for a few minutes, just long enough to make a brief speech, thanking everyone for coming. He spoke for a minute or two before breaking down. This father of mine, the strongest man I’ve ever known.

And, so under the twinkling stars of an Arizona desert sky, a one-man-band played like an orchestra last Saturday night. Chicken and vegetables were served with pink, prime rib of beef. A beautiful rolling dessert cart passed, overflowing with white wedding cake, Bride and Groom decorated cake pops, together with pastel powdered sugar cookies placed in fluted paper tin cups.

For several hours, drinks colored of the desert filled fancy glasses and flowed freely while people danced under a golden moon before the last song of the evening was sung. Suddenly, every paver cemented on the patio dance floor was filled. People put their hands together high in the dark blue sky, clapping them in unison to, “We Are Family.”

*The next day, Eileen did feel rested enough to join everyone for a BBQ hosted by her daughter. Truly, a nice family gathering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love 146 ~ Update #2


https://randieross.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/love-146-update-2/

A heart warming post of a mother on a mission to help stop Human Sex Trafficking. I was appalled to learn my home of, St. Louis is ranked in the top 20 USA cities for this ugliness. Please join in helping to save innocent children who have no voices when stolen off the streets. Thank you.

Glitter In The Ashes

12974498_991801127579187_2283801450405787908_n

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may have read how I have been walking alongside a team of wonderful people on team Love Wins, and we have been walking 146 miles in 46 days to help the efforts of Love 146 to end child trafficking. We have 5 days left and I was able to finish my 146 miles in 36 days!  I am still walking, and am at 154 miles as of today.  This issue of child trafficking weighs so heavy on my heart.  It hurts to know that these innocent kids don’t have a choice, and I am so honored that I have resources and abilities to spread the word that this needs to stop.  I am blessed that I have an amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing  husband who supports my efforts, and amazing friends who have joined in to walk with me and pray…

View original post 489 more words

The Gift of Life


 

3d-abstract_other_glorious-day_38750Organ Transplants…The Gift of Life

I promise this post won’t be filled with quoted statistics to bore you. I have no desire to waste your time with troubling news. I simply wish to write from my heart in order to share something good and positive. Something that changes lives. Something that you can even do. Do you believe me?

Last week, one of my younger cousins, a fraternal twin, and a member of my great big extended family, underwent a liver transplant due to a heredity condition. He lived with this rare, hidden Chronic Condition for years without a single problem. Indeed, he was not even aware of it until it reared its ugly head. Unfortunately, many Chronic Conditions are like this…..

A couple of years ago, subtle changes whispered from deep within my cousin’s unseen walls, nagging him until he needed to find out what they were. Shockingly, he lived with a heredity liver disease. Doctor’s tried many things to keep his liver running smoothly. For a while, things seemed to work. In fact, my cousin lived with his Chronic Condition for quite some time. But, in the end, a liver transplant was his only option.

My cousin has a big family, a loving wife together with grown children who are graduating from college. Others are getting married and starting life anew. My cousin wants to be a part of this. It’s his family, after all! While on the national transplant list, together, they hoped and prayed and waited. Finally, in the wee hours of last Tuesday morning, words came they all had prayed for. “We have the perfect match for you!”

A week ago today. In spite of thirteen hours of surgery not without complications, followed by more surgery, my cousin’s new liver is functioning exactly the way it should be! A miracle to me. His skin is pink again and he smiles with thankfulness at all life has to offer. He wouldn’t trade a single second of yesterday, today, or tomorrow for what the future may hold. To hold the hands of his wife or children sitting by his side are gifts beyond measure. A single kiss from their lips or gentle brushes of fingertips wiping away tears of happiness are blessings from God.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my cousin’s donor family, to pray for them together with their lost loved one. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your unselfishness during an unspeakable time of grief and pain. You’ve given our family the Gift of Life.

To all of those who are reading this post, please consider signing the back of your driver’s license, allowing donation of your organs. Speak to your loved ones to let them know of your wishes in advance. It’s a simple thing really. A signature on a blank line with the ink of a pen. And yet, it’s the most unselfish thing you’ll ever do.

Think about it. To give someone…not just one person in the whole of this world, but an entire extended family, a second chance to live their lives. Yes, The Gift of Life!

Thank you.

*photo courtesy of Google Chrome

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!