Saturday, December 29, 2007

Holiday Sports

Knowing our daughter and family were at the SIUC Arena last night, Gerald and I watched the game sporadically. I didn’t see Samuel nor parents in the crowd, but Vickie told us tonight that she saw Sam and David. Unfortunately I saw that last 3-point wonder shot by the wrong team that made us lose by two points. It was a thrilling shot--but not for us Salukis.

More thrilling that the game, however, was realizing Katherine was up to attending a game. She had her first Tysabri infusion on Thursday afternoon. When she left the hospital, she was amazed to realize she could see better. The muscles behind her eyes that cause her to need to refocus constantly to temper the nausea/vertigo were evidently already better. She has been limiting herself to looking straight ahead to compensate and lesson the problem. She said she feasted looking sideways on the highway as David drove home.

Tonight some of us gathered here at Woodsong with Erin and family and friends to watch the Alamo Bowl Game in San Antonio. Again we were disappointed to see “our” team--Texas A&M--lose by a touchdown, especially after being ahead during the first quarter.

There was lots of cheering throughout, and that increased when Erin’s special friend Matt Featherston played. Vickie brought pizzas, and I put out soup and goodies. Then Erin surprised us with her masterpiece she had baked--a cake shaped like a football with #46 written in the icing. It was good. The company was good. All that was bad was the score.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Is Here

Family arrived in the middle of the night last night, so I knew Christmas was here. Others arrived at Gerry and Vickie’s house in Johnston City, and we all got together tonight at The Mix in Carterville to hear a concert by Eiler Grey (our granddaughter Leslie Eiler) and her friend Caleb Francis, who came down from Charleston.

We will gather again tomorrow after church for lunch, and then by Monday morning part of the visitors will be going back up north and one will be leaving to join Texas A&M football team preparing to play in the Alamo Bowl. Others of our family are in Florida and elsewhere this year. So our group on Christmas Day to eat ham and Christmas dinner will be smaller than usual.

I am later than usual in writing on Woodsong Notes also because our family has been enmeshed in too many health issues to have much time for writing Christmas cards or anything else. Too many people in our family are seriously ill right now.

Our hearts and minds have gone through many flipflops this week as Gerald’s brother Ken continues to fight leukemia. I know our family is not alone. Many all over the world are fighting life-threatening illnesses and have no doubt had highs and lows this week just as Ken has. On Tuesday he was doing so well that a doctor said Ken might get to come home for this weekend. That afternoon he had a heart attack when some bleeding started, because his heart lacked sufficient blood to pump.

It made us feel even worse because it was preventable. The doctor had ordered a blood transfusion for him at 7 in the morning. The nurse still had not given it in the afternoon when the heart attack resulted because the heart did not have enough blood to pump. So he was back in ICU.

Yesterday after someone lost his blood sample between his room and the lab, a doctor did it over himself so Ken could have a needed test to find source of bleeding. The showed no serious cause. They were able to stop the bleeding. People were high.

Then he was put in with another patient and the patient’s attendant--and the other two talked all night with lights on. Opal could not stay in the room, so she was forced go to the lodge with their children. This morning after yesterday’s ordeal and no sleep last night, Ken was all washed out. But he is not washed up. He is still fighting, and so is his family.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas is a Time for Sadness--and Expressing Love

Sunday we learned that our neighbor G. A. White had lost his long struggle with cancer. Wednesday night we stood in line three hours as the line swirled and turned in and out of the rooms of the funeral home. It seemed most of the community was there wanting to pay their respects to this man and his family that so many loved. As we waited, we visited with those in front and behind us as well as those in the crowded lines parallel to our line. Yesterday we watched as his funeral cort├Ęge passed our house as the long train of vehicles attending the hearse traveled with him to their farm where he was buried.

Yesterday morning’s Southern Illinoisan carried the story of the terrible airplane crash 30 years ago when the University of Evansville basketball team, coach, and others were killed. Most of us recall very clearly the horror of that news. Twenty-nine people died. Recently 29 seconds of silence was held in remembrance in the Duff-Kingston Gymnasium at Eldorado named after the two players from Eldorado: Mike Duff and Kevin Kingston. Greg Smith, a player from West Frankfort, was also killed in that crash. Thirty years has not stopped the grief.

At noon, I received a message from a high school friend Lois Ferrell Doctor in California that our mutual friend Lynn Dillow Borde has died December 7th. I had sent various cards, silly notes, etc. ever since I learned Lynn was diagnosed with pre-leukemia, and I faced the fact that she would not make the trip back here that she had planned for in retirement. In fact, I had mailed a note on Monday feeling regretful that I had been negligent in recent weeks. After reading Lois’ note with the news she’d just received from Lynn’s daughter, I walked upstairs to fix Gerald’s lunch, and Lynn’s son Lance phoned telling me again of our loss.

In Spring 2002, Gerald and I visited in California at Lois and Tom‘s house. They took us to attend the SIUC softball games to watch our granddaughter Tara. We also took Lynn to dinner and had a wonderful visit in her apartment. That was the first time the three of us girl friends had been together as a trio since we said goodbye to each other in the fall of 1951 when Lois left for California. But we kept in touch, and Lois and Lynn lived close enough for occasional visits.

Tonight Katherine forwarded the column by Jimmy Dean in the Marion Daily Republican telling of the struggle for life that Gunner, the 7-year-old son of the Marshall County High School high school coach Gus Gillespie is making at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, TN. Jimmy Dean had been down to Murray to see his daughter Kara. He’d made the trip with friends including Rich Herrin. They’d stopped in the Draffenville, Kentucky, high school gym on the way down, and they’d met Gillespie as Ron Winemiller, a manager for Herrin’s at SIUC, was now assistant coach there.

Only later before they returned for the prestigious Hoopfest did they hear the bad news about Gillespie’s son. Jimmy Dean wrote how he learned 17 months ago how unimportant sports and everything else is when you are praying for a miracle for your child. Our region will always grieve for the terrible loss of Dean’s son.

Many people around the world are praying for miracles for their loved ones this Christmas season just as we are for Gerald’s brother Ken, who is in intensive care as he fights his battle for another remission of leukemia. He was better this morning, and we are hoping he is soon back in a regular room.

Jimmy Dean urges us to use this season to tell our children and loved ones how much they mean to us. A friend told me this morning about a young adult nephew who claims he doesn't believe in love--he meant any kind of love. To love and be loved are the greatest gifts we can have at Christmas or any other time. Let's not be stingy with these gifts.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Barb and Bob are ok, and so am I!

Yesterday while Pat Evans and I were enjoying our gab fest, I was so happy to get a phone call from my cousin Barbara Morgan. She was checking up on my cataract surgery yesterday morning, and I was pleased to tell her I was doing great. (Dr. Powers agreed with my assessment when Gerald took me today for my day-after check-up.)

Barb did not know that Gerald and I had been trying to phone her and Bob for two days after hearing the stories of flooding in Oregon. She explained that they did lose their electricity on Sunday night, but it came back on Tuesday. Then, however, their phone service was interupted. She could phone out, but our calls could not go through. I was glad to find out that our long periods of ringing her phone were not heard on her end since she could not answer if she had heard! With the loss of electricity/phone service, their computer went dead. But Barb was cheerful sounding, and she was worrying about me while I had been worrying about her.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

’Tis the Season for Gripes, Worries, and Concerns

I was very pleased with myself last night when I got the main floor Christmas tree up in the living room. And all the lights on. They cheered me as I started adding the ornaments, and I finished that job this afternoon. Then I plugged in the lights again. The highest string and the big star on top that was hooked to it would not work. I didn’t think that we had any strings that go out with just one bad bulb, so I guess the string has died. What to do now? GRRR. A half-lit tree looks kinda silly.

At least I had not yet put on the icicles--really beautiful long silver ones that bring back wonderful memories of shopping years ago in Nashville, TN, at a 90% after-Christmas sale with my two daughters living there. I still have excess little baskets around the house that we paid 10 cents for. Numerous craft/gift projects haven’t used them all. We laughed and laughed at ourselves that day and had so much fun. Life is much more difficult these days for the three of us, but I like remembering that good time.

I shopped today at the monthly Senior Citizen Day at Kroger’s, which is an enormous pain for everyone involved, but who can resist the discount? If the corporate managers would simply reduce prices without all the silly book work, letters, and the trouble of cards and coupons, I would shop there regularly instead of just on Senior Citizen Day, which is crowded and crazy. I feel sorry for the employees on this day, and I also feel sorry for us oldsters having to cram a month’s worth of grocery shopping into one day to get what I assume is a fair price for their merchandise. I am grateful that the rest of the month I can shop at a store that cares more about its customers’ needs.

However, when I was half way through unloading my cart, the sweetest young woman clerk finished the job for me apologizing that she hadn't been available when I lifted all the heavy boxes of cola off the bottom of the cart. And the young employee who took the cart to the car was equally kind. They both lightned my mood. Another good thing is that I have the Christmas ham bought and stored in the downstairs fridge, where Gerald carried the heavy thing for me. Not so pleasant is still having part of the non-perishables to put away tomorrow--another non favorite task.

I may not feel like it tomorrow since I have to be at Harrisburg Medical Center in the morning at 7:15 for cataract surgery. The eye doctor told me I might be sleepy, but I should be just fine by tomorrow afternoon to even go on a trip if I wanted. I don't want, but a friend is dropping in then, and I look forward to her visit.

We are concerned for our brother Ken, who is in a Saint Louis hospital fighting for another remission from leukemia. His chemo is over, and the next three to four weeks are supposed to be the difficult part.

We are also concerned about our cousins Barbara and Bob Morgan in Oregon. We worry that beautiful Mosby Creek may have overflowed. We haven’t been able to reach them on the phone.

Those are just part of our concerns. Some periods of life have more anxieties than others, and this is one of those periods for us. I think I sometimes like to gripe about minutiae, such as burned-out lights and irritating shopping trips to keep myself from thinking about the really serious concerns that I don’t even want to think about, let alone talk about. Ah well. I have lived long enough to know that troubles pass, and with God's help, humans get through them.