Final Call….HEAVEN BOUND

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Aunt Carole and norah

This is Aunt Carole holding our grandaugher Norah at Christmas Time

 

These photos were taken in December 2015.  My Great Aunt Carole was helping make blankets and pillows for all 7 of my granddaughters.  We made them wooden cradles out of solid cherry , so she and my Mom sat in their home and made the blankets and sheets and matching pillows.

*****************************************************************              I write this morning from the bed side of my great Aunt Carole. She is 79.  She moved here in December from Florida in hopes of building a small apartment on our farm and finish out her life here. She was very excited at the prospect of Spring arriving  as she wanted to sit on the deck and watch the farm animals, ply with my 12 grandchildren and she thought she would be able to cook meals while I was in the field putting in crops.

She talked very candid with me these last few months about her life . The mistakes she made she couldn’t go back and fix, about the loved ones that had written her off, and about two of her sons passing. When you are dying I believe  especially then,  that YOUR STORIES MATTER, YOU MATTER,  and MOST THE TIME people want to talk about their past, and they need a listening ear…. not a judge.

She spoke of the Son she gave up to her sister to raise. How she was on the sidelines of that young boys life as his “Aunt Carole” for 36 years. Upon her older sisters death , the man ask Carole to explain the circumstances that caused her to relinquish him to her sister. She said with a big smile. “We spent all of one day talking and talking and at the end of the day, He covered my hand with his and said “Its ok Mom, I understand why you did what you did. I forgive you”.  And just like that the two were inseparable until his death  years later.  Everyone deserves forgiveness. And I am thankful she received that gift from him  and that finally she had a son “outloud” and He called her mom.

In February, she was diagnosed with lung cancer, after she was coughing up blood.  And so plans have changed. For the last 2 weeks I have been her 24 hour hospice care team. We have a n RN that comes in once a week to be sure that Aunt Carole is out of pain and checks her over all condition. There is another darling  little gal  that comes in mid week and offers a bath if Aunt Carole  wants one.

My Grandchildren come to visit with her daily and Aunt Carole loves it.  Emmalynn plays tic- tac- toe with her when Aunt Carole can’t push down hard enough to make her mark on the electronic tablet Emma just smiles  up at her and pushes it for her .  At lunch time Emma was eating her macaroni and cheese and suddenly she asks me if she can help Aunt Carole eat , and she fed Aunt Carole as if she were feeding her doll.  It was too precious not to get a photo of.

 

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And in the last two weeks Aunt Carole wanted a puppy. I understand completely why, she wanted something fuzzy and live to hold and pet. She hated that she wasn’t able to get up and go see all the new farm babies. Pigs, cows, sheep.  One morning she ask if I would bring one of the new sheep into the house and show her. Of course we did. And our miniature poodle Moxie became our mascot. She loved the coloring of the little sheep and so every afternoon I would wonder out into the pen and steal away another baby for Aunt Carole to see and hold.

Also, typical of Aunt Carole if you knew her, one afternoon she wanted a margarita. Since I have never been a drinker I wasn’t sure of exactly what she wanted.  Still,  it was her wish and  we made it happen, we bought her a pre made margarita.  She took only 2 drinks of it but kept saying how good it tasted to her.

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Aunt Carole is my 6th loved one that I have provided hospice care for. It is NOT my career choice, or my calling. I would say it is something that I FALL INTO . My Daughters and girlfriend Cheryl would tell you that I was chosen each time. I only do this for someone that I love, that I am close to, or  they ask me themselves to do this for them.

It is a very hard job, and its leveling to me for weeks afterwards.  I watch my loved ones from the side of the bed as DEATH like a speeding train comes racing at them . We see it coming,  we feel its rumble,  , We hear it off in the distance and we KNOW  its coming …closer and closer and its going to  HIT our loved one and there is no DETOUR. No rescuing them.  We sit  and watch helplessly.

We both sit for hours, talking about movies, and shows, memories, in between the   deafening sound of the oxygen machine, and her labored breathing. We shared many sweet  “end of a life” conversations. I watched her daily as she depleted quicker than the human eye or heart could believe.  Speaking for her became labored but she insisted on talking and would never just finish the sentence where she lost her breath, in her true PERSERVERING  spirit she would start over.  Again and Again. She wanted to say the full thought all  at once.

Aunt Carole is a fighter from way back. Never intentionally mean. Yet, her life had some pretty high hurdles and it didn’t make her bitter and nasty towards others but it gave her an “edginess” that could be taken as mean or crusty.  When she ask me if  I thought she was  a difficult person to be around, or to get along with. She patted my arm and  said to be honest.        I told her,  she wasn’t mean or hurtful , but I thought that perhaps her FILTER was plugged sometimes cause she would say things in a way that could offend people unless they really knew her. And then again sometimes….it offended you even when you did know her. lol   She was that much like her momma Aena . She spoke straight from the hip.

Four day into our ” hospice  care” on a Wednesday afternoon , Aunt Carole removed a gold necklace  and a gold dome ring that had originally  belonged to my grandmother (her sister) and she put them on me. I watched as she removed the ring from her middle finger and slid it onto my middle finger.  She said she wanted me to have them . I thanked her through tears and  told her that I loved her, that her life mattered and that I would miss her when she wasn’t here.

It was the last time she was able to raise both her arms and put them  around my neck .  She hugged me and said “You know I love you,  I don’t know what I would have done if you  hadn’t taken me in. I didn’t want to  die in a nursing home.” We both cried .

Now We talk, we cry, she sleeps.  When she wakes in pain, I try to get her medicine down her using applesauce. Its about all she will eat not and just a few bites. One for the pills, and one for a “chaser” she called it.   I feel her pain and hurt  clear down to the bottom of my feet and I hold her hand until it subsides.  She doesn’t want to be alone anymore. So each night I push HER  hospice lift chair next to her bed, and I crawl into it and I sleep holding onto her forearm that is now lots of loose skin. Each time she wakes, she pats my arm.   Neither of us is getting much sleep.

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Oddly, before this Aunt Carole wore hearing aids. Yet now her hearing is so acute. And as a care giver the ONE area that I constantly fall short in is in regards to my hands. I have had cold hands and feet due to Reynaud’s Disease and I always  forget that, so  every single time I touched her ..her eyes would widen and she would say “Oh those cold hands of yours”. And we would laugh as I apologized for the hundredth time.

I would hold her hand at night and say prayers together just like I did with my children when they were small.  She doesn’t want to watch much television now, though before any kind of a detective movie was her pick. Now we visit, she sleeps, and she stares at the ceiling.  Yesterday afternoon a girlfriend of Aunt Caroles and mine was visiting and we  took photos of her parents, her siblings, the love of her life, and photos of her son and ran upstairs to  my office.  We used my HP printer and blew up their faces into 8 x 10’s. Then  we  tacked them in a collage above her bed while she was sleeping.

When she awoke she gasped and tears fell down the side of her face. I ask her why she was crying and she pointed to the ceiling and said “I love it”.  Cheryl and I  told her everyone of those people were waiting for her and she was fine to go on to meet with them anytime she was ready. On this day she also wanted to play a game of yatzee with  Cheryl and I…so we did. She had a hard time focusing and sometimes rolling the dice….but she was determined.

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We are nearing her final hours. I can tell by that “far away glaze” in her eyes.  She can no longer use her hands to hold anything , it has become impossible for her to swallow without choking badly. I hate to put her through that every 12 hours with medication prescribed by the hospice Dr, so I have called in and requested something different. A rubbing compound for her wrist will be put in the over night mail. The hospice team have been so great. They come and talk with Carole and check on her. When  the RN would talk with her and how happy she was to be here in this little bungalow with me the  tears would run down her face and Cindy would say  “carol why are your crying hon”…and she would whisper “Im so happy to be here. I just kept waiting for it to get done so I could be here.

A few days earlier  she told the aid Rachel

“You know its just normal for all kids to get into trouble.  We have all done it. But not her kids….(she pointed  to me)  she hasn’t had any trouble with her kids, they are all very nice people,, and all her grand children are just like her children. Most kids run away from sick old people. But her grandchildren just come up to me and hug me ….”  then she was wore out from that conversation.  I remember hurrying to my journal to write it down as I never wanted to forget it.

All the sadness and hurts from this human life will soon be gone for Aunt Carole.  I know that only one of us will be crawling out of this BLACK DEATH HOLE and trying to re adjust to normal life again. You wouldn’t think that is hard to do. When HER journey is complete you would thing I could just   spring back and move forward.   Alas, it is not that easy when your heart is connected. I CHOSE to climb down here with my Aunt. I promised her when she got bad I would take care of her and not allow her to die alone, OR  in the purple room at the home she was staying at, and I promised NOT  to put her into a hospice home or nursing home.  I listen tonight to the sounds of eminent death, the rattle in her chest, the heavy breathing, the sound of the oxygen machine and my heart is hurting. I wipe my tears EVERY TIME she stirs and I stand by her bedside and talk with her. She tells me over and over  “stop fussing so much” and then she winks.

  Wednesday April 20,  She was between pain medications, the old pill and the new rubbing compound and she was very aggressive. I understand many people go through this stage just a day or so before they pass. Hopsice team says its completely normal. She was angry, yelling and I can attest that the old lady still has a good right hook. Felt it twice.  I cried big tears as I tried to calm her,  and  when hospice returned my call and told me to go to the SURVIVAL KIT they left in the refrigerator I gave her a dose of meds to calm her.

Thursday April 21…we talked very little today , but I continued my bedside vigil . She last spoke to me about noon . When she woke I said   ‘Hi, Aunt Carole” and she replied

“Hi Babe”…I ask her if she knew who I was as i was rubbing her wrist with her medication for pain , and she said, ” why yes”  and she called me by name.  I told her that last night she was not too happy and that she didn’t know me and that she had a mean right hook, and she started to cry and with a lot of effort said “Im sorry”.   I wiped her tears, and kissed her forhead for the hundredth time during this ordeal and said I know it wasn’t you..its ok…

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Friday April 22 ………………At 1:18 p.m. She was freed. Free of this life on Earth. Free of the past mistakes or decisions she had made throughout her life that others would NEVER let her forget.  Free to go see Stan, the love of her life.       (The man she loved for 9 years . His former wife being catholic would not consent to a divorce, she set him free but would not legally release him. ) She kept his photo and that of her son next to her bed. She would be able  to hug her parents, her Sons, her Grandma that she said she saw before she died.

For me, once again I am cleaning up a body, calling a coroner, and waiting for that black Hurst to coming pulling in. This time it drove into my farm yard. What a sobering sight.

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On top of this job, which is not a pleasant one at all when it comes to cleaning and changing an adult human. Watching their bodies run rapid with fire fever and infections. Watching the skin start to loose its shine and moisture and begin to peel…all of these and more are part of the last few weeks of life. I met them head on and wanted to, for her sake.

It was after her death, and I contacted her immediate family members that she said had disowned her , that I really got hit hard with judgment’s,  ridicule, questions of why they weren’t called…..and they went so far as to request an autopsy convincing themselves and our County  Clerk  that there was foul play involved in her death. What a smack to my face, to my friends at the clerks office and the funeral home who have known me for over thirty years.  A summons was issued to every funeral home  two counties wide that simply stated  “If you have the remains of Carole Blansfield , cease cremation procedure’s immediately  as family suspects foul play”.

Shocked, and hurt do NOT describe how that felt to me. Hospice was notified and immediately  called explaining that Carole had signed herself into hospice and that there was a paper trail of doctors and nurses who prescribed her meds and over saw her care and treatment, and everything was absolutely fine and above board and told me again how much they all knew how happy she was here, and that her care was top quality. Every couple weeks  I am still receiving  condolences from hospice.

I still cant turn the handle of that door without expecting to hear the oxygen tank, hear the tv or Aunt Carole saying “Good Morning”.  It is my belief that we all DERSERVE TO HAVE A DIGNIFIED EXIT from this world, and I believe each and every one of us on this planet deserve to be forgiven for things we did or did not do intentionally.

We do not have the right as “CHRISTIANS” to blame others for the life we believe we should have had. We can talk about the low times, the hard memeories, but we must move forward and learn from it all. We cannot become stuck on the stay story and continue to blame others for what ever is wrong in our lives today. JESUS HEALS. TAKE YOUR HURTS AND BURDENS  TO HIM AND LEAVE IT THERE.

Forgiveness heals. It is not  so much a gift for the offender but more of a gift for the one who graciously offers forgiveness with a  smile and says its ok..none of us are perfect……lets go forward.

ONLY GOD HAS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE AND HE ALWAYS FORGIVES HIS CHILDREN AND RECEIVES US ALL WITH OPEN ARMS.

Rest in Peace Aunt Carole. YOU MATTERED TO US

October 9 1936 – April 22, 2016

 

 

 

My New Horse….

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All the years growing up on the family farm with my three brothers, I was second in command.  My  much older brother Stan (by 14 months) relinquished his title of oldest to me whenever it came to house cleaning or babysitting the younger brothers. There fore I assumed the role of first born and from that moment on my brothers referred to me as “Sargent General Sir”. It wasn’t a term of endearment . They were plenty angry at me when I hounded them to help clean the farmhouse before our mom returned from her routine Saturday hairdressers appt.  Back in the day she would tease all her hair straight out, and then take strands thin and about 3 inches wide, spiral them up on the top of her head and secure them in place with hair pins and then she would spray hairspray for 5 minutes to hold them in place. And hold they did….. forever.

Our Dad, had a strange affection towards his farm machiney that as a young person I didn’t get it. I took in his trait, but never took a moment to understand the “bond” he shared with sheet metal.  We were raised on John Deere Tractors and Ford pickup trucks. If there was any other kind of make or model out there, we sure didn’t know about and it surely wasn’t welcome on the farm.  And Dad would call his truck and tractors pet names, like “Old Bessie” or “old Girl” or “Julie” it was just something he would spit out when he was talking and never miss a breath.

Alas, fast forward 32 years. I bought a 200 acre farm, from Farmer Burt and He believed in farming the old way. He slowly converted me to Dodge trucks and Since He was an Oliver and White fan, it slowly became my choice of tractors also. Burt never owned a tractor with a cab. We did once, in 1995 but of course we sold it or traded it or some such thing . I didn’t care. I love the open stations. Love the sun beating down on me, the smell of dirt and diesel in the hair, I prefer mud over makeup….seriously it a nature thing I guess.

The years have gone quickly by and suddenly when I have field work to do, I wait and wait for the sun to come out completely , or the wind to die down. Then I have a small window of work opportunity before the sun moves out and the cool sets in and within a few hours my knees and joints are locked up tight from the cold.  We decided its time to find an affordable cab tractor.

On Monday before Easter, we found one. Much nicer that any we had looked at. By Tueday I finally got ahold of a salesman and by late Tuesday afternoon  it was ours. The sales man ask if I was going to drive down to Ohio and look at it. I said “Nope, I can feel it. Its suppose to have a Cass County Home.  Just bring her home”.

They set up delivery for Good Friday.  They were 90 miles away and called that morning to say they would be here sometime in the afternoon.  I had some of the grandchildren that day.   It was almost 3:30 p.m. and suddenly I could feel it. I am completely serious. I knew it was in the neighborhood. I grabbed my camera and stood by the glass door and within 20 seconds the white semi crept through the pines . I started snapping pictures.

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So, she is here. She is 36 years old and I am so beyond tickled with her. I cannot imagine how fortunate I am to have such a nice tractor. Not just because its a cab tractor but because its a WHITE FIELD BOSS and it so immaculate!!!!   When I think of all the nasty, rusted, wore out tractors we entertained the idea of buying this winter I just shiver. I was willing to make anything work to have a cab. Oh we could  sand it and paint it I had said, it will do…ANYTHING will be better than nothing right.

HERE’S THE MEANT TO BE PART OF THIS STORY……I  LOVE THIS WHITE TRACTOR. From the moment I saw it on the trailer my heart flipped.   I believe clear down to the bottom of my feet that Burt commandeered this tractor from Heaven and helped navigate  it right here to HIS FARM/OUR FARM.

See, how I refer to it as a her. Isn’t it the strangest thing how we pick up some of our parents traits and some 53 years later I cannot explain why. What I can explain is that when I am near the tractor I say odd things like :

“Sorry you are sitting in the rain old girl”

“Sorry, I haven’t been able to take you for a run today old girl”

“Man she’s a nice tractor isn’t she”

“Man, we hit the lottery with her”

Unbeknownst to me,  our four year old grand daughter noticed that a tear or two had fallen from my face when the tractor was unloaded and sitting in the front drive. She looked at me and said “Omie, why are you crying, you don’t like your  new tractor”. I said  “Oh Honey, these are happy tears, but we don’t have to tell anyone the Omie cried a little ok..”

Emma agreed, but per standard operating procedures, she couldn’t wait to BLURT it out to her momma that afternoon. “Mom, Mom, Omie cried when the man brought her tractor, but it was just a little bit. ”   Her little Brother Logan, a boy of few words , because he is that much like his Daddy. Rode in the tractor and never moved his facial expressions much. Acted like he has been in this tractor forever, but when I stop it, he simply says ” Why did you stop Omie, lets go again”…

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And my most favorite tale of the new tractor……..Yesterday I walked past the tractor carrying 5 gallon buckets of feed in my hands I muttered   “Old Julie, you are such a nice tractor”… and Logan who was following behind me slows and rubs his hand over the top of the front time a few times and say “This is a nice tractor”  “Omie’s New Tractor is nice”. Then he picks up his 1 gallon bucket of feed and continues to on.  You just cant write stuff this precious.

 

 

THE DOLL in the dollhouse

Shortly before Christmas 2015, I received an instant message from someone I had never met.  It was an older gal  and she just messaged me out of the blue to tell me that she really enjoyed some of the posts that I placed periodically via facebook . I thanked her of course, and tried to come off as a “normal” person, when in fact at this time of year, the Holidays tend to remind me of what family is and isn’t.

It seems that the older I get the more I can identify with that old adage that family isn’t always about BLOOD, its more about who shows up time and time again when you need it most with a few spare feathers in one hand and some “super friend” glue in the other and is there to piece you back together and tell you that you WILL  fly again soon!!!!   I was in the midst of that sort of day when I received such an message from Miss Rosemary.

I responded in kind, and then she responded again. Then I answered that message, and she answered another one of mine and by the new year January  2016, we were sharing messages that were 8, and 9 paragraphs long. It is true that we will divulge more to a stranger sometimes…..thinking that we will never meet so it sort of becomes a “safe place” to land. We shared, family stories, past hurts, gave encouragement and just seemed to communicate as if we had known one another for years.

Well, finally I believe that Miss Rosemary invited me for coffee. I would normally never go to a strangers home, but I had been inquiring around town and heard several glowing reports about her and her equally….beautifully spirited hubby. So I accepted the invite and over I went one Wednesday morning.

From the moment I crawled out of my truck, she opened her door and  she was a DOLL!. Bright, happy,  beautiful ,  with more talent and kindness in one hand than I have seen in a long time. She invited me into her home as if we had known one another for years. I was PLEASED that her husband was lingering in the next room. A safety guard that anyone as good and kind hearted as she is should have close by.  Half way through our visit, Tom joined us for coffee.  When I write “joined us” I mean He was literally invited. He didn’t just walk in and park his tall lanky frame at the table. Miss Rosemary “invited” him to join us.  If you cannot read between the lines here, let me lay it out plainly.

I adored these two people . Not because they were so warm and receptive to me, not because I felt like I had known them for years, and not even for the fact that I wanted to drop at their feet and ask “Am I too old to be adopted by you two”. No, none of those reasons.

I was mesmerized by the way they treated one another. The MUTUAL LOVE & RESPECT is so completely evident in their marriage of 50 years. She has an idea, she mentions it and off Mr, Tom goes to “help Miss Rosemary” make it a reality.  They laugh with each other, and at each other. They don’t bark or snarl or say crude hurtful things in a joking manner. They are the real deal. What a BLESSING for me to just sit in their presence. I assure you , they are the best kept secret in town.

To date, I have had several wonderful visits with these two fine people. I have had Miss Rosemary at my home, and still I can attest that she is both delightful and inspiring. There is NOTHING that she cannot create, in fact the home in which they live resembles yet another  precious “Little home” they created together.

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Look at this Doll House.  You would have to see it in person to truly appreciate it all to the tiniest detail. I was captivated by it the moment I walked in the door, Back in 1994 I stopped by a wood workers shop and inquired if he could make me a doll house —replica to the home I was renting at the time. I am so glad now that he was too busy to accept the request.

I bought a farm that same year, and 22 years later I am still in the processing of bringing back this old vintage farmhouse built in 1880,  Shortly,  I will begin to make my own doll house to replicate my home today,  and  I pray that Miss Rosemary and Mr, Tom will be available to help me make the inside of my doll house as adorable and warm as they have made theirs.

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There is a DOLL that lives in a DOLLHOUSE, but its a real house and she is a REAL LIVING, BREATHING, LADY….and she has a wonderful, kind husband and together they have created a beautiful life with four children and grandchildren and a town that adores them.  Their story matters to me, their history, how they met, how they raised a family and where, how they arrived at the home they have today. It matters to me, because THEY MATTER TO ME. Because they are a SAFE PLACE for my tired weary sole in this CRAZY, GONE MAD WORLD.  They feel like family and we share no common denominator of BLOOD.  We are connected by HEART.

 

The Easter Bikes

 

IF you have ever watched the classic movie YOURS, MINE & OURS, with Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda.  Then you will understand that in the middle of the movie when the two parents get married and have 18 children between them and they go to the commissary to buy their weekly  groceries the cashier always  announces over the intercom..    “THE BEARDSLEYS ARE HERE”.  Its a hilarious old movie.

Well, sometime ago shortly after New Years…… Papa and Omie (me) decided that we would like to buy all the grandchildren new bikes for their birthdays. Then we figured out that it sure wouldn’t be much of a birthday present to the grand children born in the late fall and winter. They would wait all year for their bikes and the others would be riding them if they were fortunate enough in the birthing order process to be hatched in the spring.

Then we conjured up that we would buy them all bikes for Easter. Mind you grandbaby number 12 in due in 2 months.  It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to do the math here and possible incur a small stroke. So we decided to buy a few a time. It was a good plan. It just didn’t materialize as we had hoped it would.

So last night, with only a week until Easter I figured I better go get at least half the bikes before the pickings are too slim. After all, Rockefeller is not my last name and our  money doesn’t grow on trees. So off to the local Walmart I hurried.  Picked up a few groceries and then to the bike section.  What I CARE to know about bikes is that they  have 2 wheels and brakes, oh and a chain is good. Seriously, you could never impress me with the brand of bike you own. It is just not important to me. Never has been, I was raised on a farm, and Dad would find our bikes at the local scrap yard, Red and Rusty were in and we were ecstatic to have  something to navigate through the sandy farm drive or go up the hill to the barn.  Not allowed to ride on the gravel road, our paths were quite limited to say the least. Hills and grass, Hills and grass.

We picked through the bikes and found 7 that would work for the oldest seven grandchildren. This was not a small process at all, simply because Walmart doesn’t have the prices on the bikes themselves. So we constantly  had to take a bike off the rack and walk it over to the scanner….price checking.

Next, came the BALANCING ACT. We loaded 2  of the 18″ bikes on to the top of our cart taking great pains NOT to crush any of the groceries. Then we had a couple Walmart employees  each walking a few through the isles and up to the check out area.

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What was  hilarious to me and perhaps the funniest part of this endeavor was walking the parade of bikes toward the front of the store. People were stepping back and watching us, talking and pointing, kids were watching us with their eyes all lite up like little Christmas trees. Several older people would smile and nod and whisper, or say “There’s going to be some really happy kids somewhere”. I would explain that it was for the grandchildren’s Easter and they would just beam. One Gentlemen said  to me at the check out “Do you have 7 children. I explained that they were for the grand kids  and that I had almost 12, but was buying 10 and needed 3 more. He nudged me with his arm and said “You are a special Grandma and you are going to make a memory for them , they will carry for always’.  “I sure hope so”, was my response.

It was a delight for our old hearts to watch the thrill that folks got just from seeing that many new bikes head out of a store all  at once. We really are still a large country but have small town values. For the most part, people are happy to see other people happy. For me, it was sweet to see that folks really care about the small things in life, what really matters at the end of your day, week, year, life.

We will probably NEVER AGAIN, buy that many bikes at one time. I think we did do it once for our Own  3 children back in 1988. We did this for the grand children, to BLESS THEM, not  to impress the outside  world. We did it to show them how much Omie and Papa love them and we hope it creates a memory in their hearts and minds that will last for many years to come, when we are no longer here.

We all only live once, it matters not if we are talking about bikes, or jobs, or dreams.  What is important is that we seek out that which makes us happy, and we remember that  “TO MUCH THAT IS GIVEN…MUCH IS EXPECTED.

22 years ago, Burt sold me this farm. I still pay on it today and will be mortgaged till I die, but He didn’t just sell me a dream, He GAVE US A LIFE. A new beautiful family bonding life.  Because He chose PEOPLE OVER PROFIT our children had a wonderful life here on this farm they would have otherwise only visited on occasion. Because Burt wanted the family farm to continue living , He sold it to someone that would strive to keep it alive and going and He didn’t sell out to the highest Mega farmer Bidder.

I am forever grateful, and more and more each day,  for the gift of His love and unselfishness.   I hope  that I am paying forward in all the ways that I can,  the kindness that  Burt so willingly relinquished.

UPDATE 3/31/2016

Easter Sunday, we lined all the grandchildren up in front of the garage after lunch. ( the man in the blue shirt has all the power here, that Papa.) When He hit that button and the garage door opened the  screams were PRICELESS…..but on the videos our girls took, you could hear lots and lots of ” thank you’s” and that was precious to us.

Then, the chaos began. Kids were riding into one another, there were adjustments to make to seats, and training wheels, and brakes to learn to use. The little ones in their attempts to ride would ALWAYS be in the way of the older kids who wanted to RIDE FAST.  It was in the famous words of Carey Grant “Good Stuff.

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JOEY FEEK sang…PRECIOUS LORD,LEAD ME HOME

20160308_190754 20160309_074250 20160309_074328 20160309_074428Anyone that knows me, would know that it is NOT like me at all to steer clear of anything that touches my heart. The death of Joey Martin-Feek on March 4, 2016 was more than I could deal with.

Here IS a beautiful, talented, young Christian Singer, Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister. She never hesitated to give ALL THE GLORY to GOD. For everything in her life, and she strived to be a fine example to all. Yet the Lord saw fit to call her home. She  was so young, too young. She left behind a baby girl, (Indiana Boon) a precious reminder to  everyone that she was here, and a part of her will now remain.

I KNOW the Lord could have kept Indiana in Heaven, but He chose to share her with Joey for 2 years, He chose Rory and Joey for that little Down Syndrome Girl. The LORD KNOWS what HE is doing, He knew the future, He knew the outcome of a terrible cancer diagnosis  back in 2014.

Still, I have had a very difficult time with her death. I have followed her and her career since the very beginning. I have identified with her and Rory on more than a few points of life and I so much wanted her to be healed. At least for a couple of years.  So many folks that walk this earth are just full of  hate and anger towards  others .

There is nothing on this Earth that will satisfy us.  Nothing.

Contentment is a difficult Horse to catch!!

We can’t be satisfied . Not out of greed so much as just  because we are all hungry for something that cannot be found on this earth.  We plan for trips, take them and then begin to plan another, as a child we think “oh when I’m a teenager”, then we think “when I have kids” and the “Someday…when I get a minute” and the somedays never really show up. I believe that Only God can satisfy and fill the voided emptiness that sometimes plagues us. We can chase up and down every avenue in our own lives and believe that if we could just get that room finished, get the yard looking better, get those bills paid down THEN we would be happy and content. But it isn’t as true as we would like to feel it is.

I believe in God. I believe in the Bible. And all it says.  But I can’t begin to understand why He took Joey.  I am very touched and impressed with the way in which she left this world, and the way her family is going forward and walking through the painful battlefield of loss. I realize there are thousands of people in the world walking through troubled waters……we all do it. Its a part of living this Life, but it makes no sense to me.

And I will miss seeing Joey on her television show, I will forever miss the duo that she and Rory were, the love they shared that was so BEYOND real that it captivated you from the word go. They were the real deal, the authentic American  love story, the country kids gone to Nashville but  still kept their dirty farm boots on their feet.

Joey sang more beautiful hymns that I can name here, my recent favorite was Softly and Tenderly she recorded during one of her chemo treatments…and Precious Lord,  Lead me home.

The Lord saw fit in HIS PLAN, on HIS TIME SCHEDULE  to lead Joey Home , a little earlier than we all wanted it to be . The sun hadn’t set yet, there was still daylight left  to play in…but it was “Supper time, at Jesus’ house”.  And who could pass up that invitation.

I am grateful that JOEY MARTIN FEEK  didn’t leave this world “an Unknown”….because of her and Rory and their music, the world is a better place,  I am a different person, a better person.  I hope.

 

 

Home for the Holidays

There is nothing in the heart, that feels as good as being able to go home. To walk through the doors of our childhood home and feel the warm of family.  This Christmas with our 6 adult children and almost 12 grandchildren we were as busy as the rest of the world trying to find little trinket gifts that expressed our love for a reasonable  amount of money. I think we were successful. Each Adult child and Spouse received two gifts and a small amount of cash. Each grandchild received two gifts.

Before opening gifts, we discussed openly what OUR FAMILY believes this Holiday is all about and that is the birth of our Lord Jesus. The baby laying in a manager, who took on human form so that He would grown up and  know first hand all the hurts and pains and heartaches that we humans go through. He had calloused carpenter hands and was a respecter of no one. Meaning He held no one person higher than the other.  Also, before opening gifts we made sure that all the children look around them and understood that the 2nd most precious gift of the Holiday Season was that each one of us were here together . Healthy and Happy.

Santa had been so busy in his workshop. To be honest as a “working Elf” I about sanded my thumbs down to the bone. And when the grandchildren received their gifts, they weren’t as thrilled as they would have been with more toys, but once the day passed and they took their homemade gifts home they were excited.

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There is a photo of our 11th Grandbaby “Norah” laying in her cradle that she will use for her dolls someday.

Christmas at our home was precious, loud, full of excitement and I wouldn’t have traded the day for any amount of money.  The one Christmas party we did attend, left us feeling very broken and hurt. We were invited by my Dad and his wife to come to their annual Christmas Eve Party. Something our family has always done since BEFORE i was born. The parties used to be held at my Dads sisters house, but once all the children grew up the family gatherings wouldl happen at each parents home. My Dad invited us in person on Christmas Eve,  and then He  called us that same afternoon and ask us to please come down.  There are a few “young woman and their mommas ”   in the family that could not wait to make sure that I felt uncomfortable and unwanted.

When we walked in , we stood next to the coffee station. These folks couldnt get out of the room fast enough, not before they whispered and laughed looking at us first.  They ignored our presence with delight. MY oldest Brother was standing in the kitchen chatting with us, and an older cousin “dared” to be part of the conversation. Suddenly two more people walked into the party…and my brothers wife said to her friend “Go steal my husband from that woman”.  We heard her, My brother heard her, and so did my fathers wife. I should have stayed…I should have held my ground. This is my fathers home. I was invited and welcome. But they were so hurtful and “catty”.  I told my Dad we were going out to get something out of the truck and we never went back in.

It was hurtful, and I cried for a little bit…I admit to that but then I got back up on my feet and determined that …………OUR WORTH WILL NOT DEFINED BY HOW THEY TREATED US OR BY THEIR ACTIONS TOWARDS US OR BY WHAT THEY SAID…… but it sure screamed volumes of the type of people they are. Too old to be playing such kindergarten games. I am not my Brothers Mistress….I am his sister.

As crushed as we were, and we both cried on the way home, once I got myself put back together I chose to let GOD handle the heartache. Perhaps one day THEY will be made to feel so unwelcomed in their parents home. Perhaps someone can be so rude and hurtful to them, make them feel like such a nothing that they question why they are here.   But I am not allowed to do that. Vengeance is the Lords.

Sadly, we are not the exception, any more…. this is sort of  the rule now. . So many people endure this type of family gatherings. All in the name of “family” and oh my goodness that FAKEBOOK/FACEBOOK thing is the largest instigator…people are ten foot tall and bullet proof on that thing.

Post Script:  My Dad decided a few weeks later that they were not going to host the Annual Christmas Party anymore. That what he heard happened wasn’t right, and he was sorry it happened and they were done putting up with that kind of behavior. Much to my surprise there was no Christmas Party in 2016.

WHAT IF…..

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Life can be so hard. It can push you up against the wall with so much sadness and turmoil, drama and tragedy till you are not sure which end is up.  Life is also full of beauty and bliss and joy and happiness.  Most days we feel like we are in the middle of the ocean of life, our boat is taking on water and we are struggling to choose the right island to row towards.  I’ve heard it said that HAPPINESS is something we create, but I believe that sometimes our arms can just grow weary from rowing the boat,  and we need a little support, a little push to keep us going in the right, happy direction.

There is cancer all around us, diseases, losses, sickness’ that linger too long and affects the quality of life a person is having.  People with money don’t seem to deal with half the stress the people without it experience.  If you work hard and always try to do what is right, it seems like you just get knocked back on your butt and there is no “Atta boy” anymore.

I recently learned a very important lesson for life and dealing with people. I find it to not only be profound and accurate but it DOES IN FACT help me in dealing with people from all walks of life.

Take a moment and write down the name of a person(s) who has  hurt you, angers you, annoys you, irritates you or just plain fills you with resentment and frustration when you are around them.   Seriously,  sometimes just writing their name could ruin a good feeling for me.

Now ….imagine if you will  WHAT IF…..what if that person(s) is doing the very best that they can .

As miserable as resentment and disappointment and hurt make us feel, we are only fooling ourselves into believing we will feel better by continuing to dislike that person or by talking about them and judging them on their every action or word.

See, we really don’t know people. We assume we do, we even make up our own stories about them in our mind. But we don’t really know them or what makes them who they are and what has transpired in their lives that got them to the boat they are in today.

Judgment and anger take up too much of our emotional well being not to mention our time. Let those people “OFF THE HOOK”.  Stop trying to figure out why they are doing or saying or acting a certain why, stop pushing them or talking behind their back because they aren’t acting exactly as YOU think they should.  Using compassion and generosity will serve all of us better , towards a brighter future.

WITHOLDING AFFECTION WILL POISON THE VERY GROUND WATER FROM WHICH LOVE NEEDS TO GROW.

We must learn to accept people for WHO THEY ARE..not for who they could be, or who we wish them to be. It is a known fact that we tend to judge others in an area where we ourselves are the most vulnerable, or feel not good enough.  We need to practice compassion towards ourselves now and then, embrace our own imperfections, accept ourselves before we can WRITE off other peoples imperfections.  When we KNOW and BELIEVE that we are enough exactly as we are, we are worthy, our stories matter, we will not feel the need to criticize others.

CONNECTING WITH OTHERS VIA GOSSIPING IS NOT A GOOD COMMON DENOMINATOR, IT TEARS UP ROADS OF REPAIR, BURNS BRIDGES.

ASSUME, these people are doing the best they can. If they bite your head off, take something you said or did completely different from the way you meant it…you can apologize but then you have to say to yourself  “This is not about me, John must be having a bad day, a bad week or a bad year.  We don’t have to wait around kicking the same rock repeatedly and hurting our foot. And this way of processing people is not a free card to allow them to continue it hurting us.  Its a card for us to step back and say…..I’ve said or done the right thing . If I assume that he or she is doing the best they can….its liberating to US and our heart and mind to give acceptance for the way things are and move forward.

We need to set boundaries. We need to try and treat people well, be the best we can be, and if we miss the mark apologize, We do better when we know better.

As humans we can get so torqued up over ever little thing. Social media can just about destroy a person if you don’t keep boundaries and integrity in place.  Often times, we don’t know what the other persons  whole story is, what they  may be dealing with today or …what past wounds they still nurse, what they have been told or has been drilled into them. What tragic events have occurred in their past that may trigger anger and hostility in a situation today.

Give people the freedom they need. Just assume they are doing the best they can with life, and walk on. Don’t hang on the mean email or text, or the way they  yell or snap at you.  If they are truly good wholesome people they will come back and make it right…it not MOVE THE ROCK…..stop kicking it and hoping your foot will be able to budge it.   You will merely end up with a bloody foot.  Do your best today, and let GOD have the rest.

Life is too short. AND ABOVE ALL ELSE REMEMBER THIS;

WHEN SOMEONE TREATS YOU BADLY, WORKING HARD TO MAKE YOU FEEL SMALL AND INSIGNIFICATE, IT REALLY IS SAYING MORE ABOUT THEM THAN IT IS YOU.

They see in someone else something they are lacking or something they  wish they had, and they feel the need to criticize, and destroy.   Their fault finding is a lack of examining their own lives, and holding themselves to a higher Authority.  When folks believe in The Lord Jesus, they normally strive to be better people each and every day.  Unbelievers, who are Godless do not hold themselves to any accountability except their own.  Then the world becomes an Adult playground with no supervision. No one recess teacher to keep manners and courtesy in check.

 

 

Look What LOVE Can Build…

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In just Ten years , there have been 11 precious cherubs flown straight from Heaven into our lives.  Back when I was giving cancer a run for its money…. I remember wondering if I would live to see the first grandchild  Benjamin  born, and some days i was so sick and so exhausted  I could have “surrenderd all” and not cared to even stay here and fight.   That  was a long year of doctoring and not having  dreams in my life.  I just tried to get from  one appt to the next. I stopped dreaming or thinking about tomorrow, or next week, or next month. Things I wanted to accomplish. I just functioned from apt to appt.

Now OUR Baby is carrying perhaps our last grandbaby…and it has been a precious journey .
To be able to share in OUR children’s lives, to see them today all grown up, what they have all became ( super, great, kind, loving, Hard working,  honest , people) to be able to share in the lives of their babies each and every day is a BLESSING far beyond what I may have earned or deserved, and more precious than words can say.
(And to think this all began in our  10th grade English class in 1978. I ask the guy behind me,  for a pencil. Doesn’t seem possible that was 37 years ago that we first met.

Today is a milestone of sorts I reckon. At 12:25 p.m. I will officially be 53 years young. Like all birthday receipts the first thing we must do is acknowledge gratefulness that we are alive and well. Then we count our many many blessings.  Then of course we run down the same old road of “Where has the time gone” which is the cross street to “How can I be this old” and we end up at “Golly I wish time would slow down some”.

It has been a beautiful life. I loved and cherished my babies from day one. I never missed a moment of their lives. Walking, talking, teething, school, graduation, marriage, babies, I am so thankful that I have been able to be with them through all the steps. We lived awfully poor in order to do that but it is a decision I would do all over again. Our last baby was  a twin. They were fraternal. It was a blessing they each had their own protective sack, as the other twin died in uterine and almost  caused great sickness to the surviving baby. An emergency C Section was ordered.  A week before I turned  twenty four I had carried four babies and delivered three. We had Tonya Suzanne at age 20, Thomas Haas, at 22, and Catherine Marie at 23.

I have known some beautiful people in my time, and at my age I can fairly judge that these select few are in fact a rare and precious breed.  The man I bought this farm from 21 years ago, loved me like they say Jesus loves us. No requirements, nothing I did to earn it , nothing I could do to repay all the unconditional love and kindness. We were not related by blood, but drawn to one another’s spirit like a moth to a flame.

Never a sunset that I don’t think of Burton and appreciate the life HE made possible for me on this farm. The life He gave to my children and to their children. Having no children of his own, but knowing the good life it would bring he offered to sell me his farm on a land contract so I could make yearly payments at the end of each harvest.  I am still making payments and I totally believe that anything worth having is worth working for and getting it the honest way.  His friendship was a life gift for me and I still miss him terribly everyday. I Still want to run tell him some fun news, great news, show him new photos I took, share a couple pots of coffee with him, and talk the day away like we used to.  Thirty seven years my senior…..but you could never see or hear the age difference when we were visiting .

At 53, I feel young inside, but I think I look my age. The wrinkles are there when I laugh and probably when I don’t. The hair is graying though I try to mix it  in with highlights, and gravity …well its no friend to  anyone.

But I am thankful that I am still here, that I have been blessed with my children and their children. I have had a few “real friends” and with harvest time beating down on my neck today I thank the Lord above that He has chosen to keep me on this farm/ranch one more year. To see the animals grow, to see all the new babies born in the barns, to pick corn with my old Oliver ear picker and watch it fall into a gravity wagon, and see all the help I have from our children, in laws, and grandchildren unloading the wagons of corn. All those gorgeous yellow ears of corn going  up the elevator and into the round wire crib….why I would swear this is HEAVEN on Earth right here in my own back yard.

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Sherry Haas-Shelby's photo.

PRAYERS for JOEY MARTIN-FEEK

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PRAYERS FOR JOEY MARTIN-FEEK

According to the Bible, there are close to 124 miracles mentioned throughout its pages. Three dozen just within the four gospels.
Joey Martin-Feek is a beautiful, vibrant daughter of God that is in desperate need of a miracle. In fact all around the world there are folks in desperate need of a miracles. God is no respecter of people. He loves all His children the same and does not place one above the other.
As I sit here these last few weeks and ponder on GOD’S job, I can assure that I am glad that I do not have His job. For most of my adult life I have been a firm believer that the business of living and dying is Gods business not mine, and therefore we are to accept his decisions of who goes and when and who lingers behind for a spell. Yet I cannot help feeling the MAGNATITUDE OF THIS SITUATION……
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN KENNEDY WAS SHOT,
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN MARTIN LUTHER KING WAS SHOT
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE MEN LANDED ON THE MOON
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE TWIN TOWERS WENT DOWN
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN YOU HEARD THE SAD NEWS ABOUT JOEY’S CANCER RETURNING…
Yes….She and Rory have made THAT KIND OF A DIFFERENCE in the world.
Our entire nation is coming together tonight in the form of a prayer vigil for Joey at 8p.m. Her and her husband have always kept Christ front and center in their lives. They have continuously given God the glory for their good fortune, their voices, any successes they had, even in difficult situations they continued to praise the Lord. No matter what life was handing them, they continued to lead HIS army, their brothers and sisters in Christ… with dignity, honesty, and grace. They have been true inspirations to millions of people. Whether it was their laughter and love towards one another that NEVER STOPS shining, or the way they give back, always paying forward all that was given to them, or just the beautifulness of their joined voices. They are pillars in the Christian Community and in the Country Music world.
Over a year ago Joey had surgery for cancer….. (the same stage IV type I myself had ten years ago). She has been a real trooper and gone through every chemo and radiation process as the doctors have prescribed and it appears to have served no purpose. Now, they have ceased all medical intervention and chosen to go home and trust and pray ….and trust and pray more.
I imagine small children usually stomp their feet and get loud when they think we cannot hear them or we are not paying attention to them and they need to be heard, to communicate to us.
For the last several weeks I have walked around in my own life trying to make some sense out of this situation that is trying to take Joey from all of us. I realize we aren’t supposed to be angry with the Lord, we are not supposed to question His judgment or ask why. However the human side of me is asking why. Day after day on the Inside I ache and hurt and cry over this whole sad story, on the outside I want to jump up and down and stomp my feet, grit my teeth and shout for how much I don’t understand this, how unfair….ill timed….
Joey has a little girl who needs her momma, needs to have a few more years with her, GOD PLEASE GRANT JOEY A MIRACLE, please don’t take her.
Life is a voyage, and we cross some pretty turbulent waves at times, there are storms that come out of nowhere and threaten to shake us to our very core, capsize our vessel and possibly dump us at the bottom of our ocean.
We are all on this journey, and it is not an easy one. Let’s join hands and remember we are all walking one another towards HOME.
When we have reached our final destination it will have been worth it all. I believe this. The trials of the “trip” of our “Voyage” it will be lost in the GLORY of the reunion/celebration that awaits us. But for now, please join our nations Thursday evening at 8p.m.
Whisper a pray for Joey tonight….for a miracle, Her miracle. And a peace that will surpass all understanding, for if our Father does not hand out a miracle, there will be literally thousands of people crushed, crying and praying…an entire nation that will remember where they were when ……..

shs

Grinding Feed…from the Harvest

As I have previously mentioned, I love to farm. My equipment is as antiquated as I am I’m afraid. It takes me triple time do what other farmers can accomplish in one hour.  Still I am not ashamed of the way I do things, though I would sure appreciate being financial able to up grade now and then. Newer tractors,  newer planters etc.

This past weekend we spent three hours on the end of a shovel tossing ear corn into the grinder part of the feed mixer.  Its quite the process to grind up your own feed. Back 50 years ago, if a farmer had this same mixer he would be using it every week to keep feed pouring into the animals. Because we don’t have that many critters , when we grind we can usually go two weeks before having to grind again.

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First I hook the mixer up to the small tractor so the PTO isn’t running as fast as it does on the larger tractors. The grinder is old and isn’t forgiving if I work it too hard.  Then I align the grinder up with the opening in the corn crib. Usually we use 5 gallon buckets and we fill them and empty them into the grinder one at a time but since the crib is finally getting low on corn I can shovel corn from the crib straight into the grinder. A  back saving step for sure.

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IMG_6134 (2)     IMG_5894 (2)I dump bags of oats, and add dry molasses then just shovel the grinder full of ear corn until I have ground up to the line I have marked on the side of the grinding  bin. Then I off load the ground feed into a galvanized storage  bin where I store it . Sometimes if we grind a double batch and we fill the bin we then off load the extra feed into a covered gravity wagon for additional storage. I don’t expect other people to know or understand this old time method of grinding food to feed you animals but its a good life, A hard life but its good for the soul, good work out for the body and it builds character to always have to struggle amongst plenty.

This ear corn was all harvest last October 2014. I have an old ear picker that I bought from an Amish man and it runs really well. It takes a long time to pick a wagon load of ear corn and it then off using a grain elevator we unload from the wagon, it goes up the elevator and into the corn crib.  Time consuming and such fun.

When I was a small girl my older brother and i would ride in the gravity wagon while my Dad was picking ear corn.  We would get hit by the ears of corn coming into the wagon and it hurt, but it was a game to see to how long we could hold on to the sides of wagon till the corn mounted up enough that we could use our legs to stay up against the sides. It was usually cold November nights when he was picking after work so Stan and I would snuggle up in a corner of the corn and stay warm out of the wind. And sometimes we fell asleep. When we got back to the farm we would push all the corn out the door and onto the elevator for Dad.

When we bought this farm and started ear picking I couldn’t wait for my kids to experience the fun we used to during harvest riding in the wagon. That first harvest came and my kids rode about two rounds and told me I was crazy and it was NOT fun to be pulverized by ears of corn.  Must be farm kids from the 60’s were built tougher. LOL

Below are some great photos of the fall weather, my old tractor is in such need of a paint job  and actually needs to be replaced but I don’t have the heart to trade her in…

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I realize there are people who drive by my farm and laugh at the older gal out there plowing and disking and cultivating and ear picking corn as it is such an old way of doing it all

I am so thankful for the folks who came before us and persevered through all the modern technology to become the historians for us all.  Because of people like that we have museums, old cars, trucks, tractors, etc.  It matters today to help the children of this world appreciate and understand some of the finer things in life.

That fast and quick isn’t always better. That maximum yield and  mega profit isn’t what this country nor our lives is suppose to be made of. I wish for our grandchildren to see the old  WHOLESOME way that farming used to be. When it took the entire family to get crops in and harvest. Not just bigger , faster tractors, but TEAM WORK and PRIDE in who you are and what you were working for and towards.