Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lynn Delores Dillow Borde September 26, 1933 - December 7, 2007

From the sad email from our mutual friend Lois and the sad phone call from Lynn’s son Lance, I learned that Lynn had lost her battle with what she had first written the doctor was calling pre-leukemia.

After that news, a Christmas card came from Lance and his sister Pamela “PJ” Brown. The inserted memorial sheet had five pictures of Lynn from her baby picture to an adult picture. In between was an adorable formal studio photo of a gently smiling child of around four when she was still living in New York. Then a bathing beauty photo. Next, a sophomore high school class picture that I remembered, and a young adult picture I am not sure I had ever seen. Folding the precious insert back into the card and envelope, I told myself I would have to think about it later. Yet I knew what was inside that envelope, and I could not keep from thinking about the loss of my childhood friend.

During that pre-Christmas season with Lynn’s photos hidden inside the envelope’s darkness, we already had plenty to grieve because our lives were full of sadness and pain for family members and their illnesses. I did not want to face the loss of my first writing friend and faithful and most-fun friend. Since she was in California and I stayed in Southern Illinois, she was not in my everyday life. Although we wrote long letters as young adults, those had trickled off some years to only Christmas cards. She talked of coming back for a visit in retirement, and I had looked forward to that. However, with the pre-leukemia letter, I faced the end of that plan and dream.

Lynn left SIUC the first quarter we were there to fulfill her ambition of joining the Air Force. We wrote faithfully and shared our adventures. Later she married, and she and her husband came back on G.I. bills and were in the area briefly before returning to California.

There they remained although there was one brief summer trip back here in the 1960s. We both had young families. I remember I had laryngitis and could not really talk, which I considered a terrible irony since all Lynn and I ever wanted to do was talk--for hours on her front porch in Jonesboro where she lived with her grandparents and where we grew up, for hours when we took a walk from her house to and through the nearby Jonesboro cemetery and giggled as young people can when death is far away. For hours on the telephone as teens talking about cute boys and what to wear to the basketball games in the A-J gym. For hours as we read to each other from our journals when she was Lyndee and I was Suzie. We spent summer evenings at the ballpark and in the Tropics, our teenage hangout. We could make a nickel coke last all night.

After that 1960s visit at our ancient farm house plagued by laryngitis and busy with the care of our little ones, we did not see each other again until 2001 when we went to California to see our granddaughter Tara play softball and stayed at Lois and Tom’s house in Oakland. We arranged a visit with Lynn in her Concord apartment and met her cats that she loved, and we all went out to dinner together.

This week I opened the haunting envelope again. I have kept her photos on my desk and allowed myself to know I won’t see her again during this life. I signed a sympathy letter to Lance and Pam and included the name Suzie. I won't ever sign my name that way again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mike Pinto to Speak to SIWG January 17 at JALC

Because our lives are more full than usual right now, I am simply going to post the news release I sent out about tomorrow night's Guild meeting:
Mike Pinto, national motivational speaker and manager of the Southern Illinois Miners Baseball Team, will present one of his challenging multimedia programs at the Southern Illinois Writers Guild on Thursday, January 17, at 7 p.m. in Room F-119 in the Ray Hancock Conference Center at John A. College in Carterville. The public is welcome.

A specialist is personal branding, Pinto uses a visually focused high energy presentation to help his listeners to develop long-lasting personal identities. For the writers and their guests, Pinto will be combining his motivational emphasis with how writers can brand and sell themselves. His goal will be to help those in attendance to achieve more, do more, and get more business for themselves.

His book In a League of Your Own: Positioning Yourself as the Only One to Call will be released in early 2008. Pinto is president of BrandChampions International in Chicago, Illinois, a consulting company specializing in teaching financial advisors strategies to stand out in their marketplace. He is known for his passion, enthusiasm, integrity, and humor.

Pinto has acted as a branding consultant to hundreds of clients including Bank of America, Chase, Countrywide, John Hancock Funds, John Hancock Annuities, MFS, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Pulte, Smith Barney, Stifel Nicolaus, Solomon Brothers, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo, according to his website .

Pinto has given over 500 speeches to over 250,000 people in his 17-year speaking career, which he conducts during the off season of the Miners. He will be in Marion for an awards event for the Miners the day after his presentation to SIWG.

SIWG is a student organization at JALC with author Harry Spiller as sponsor. In addition to student members, writers in the area are encouraged to join. Some members are journal/letter writers, others want to be published someday, many are part-time writers, and some are full-time professional writers. Present membership is 63, and some 30 have authored one or more books.

Jim Lambert of Carbondale is the new SIWG president for 2008. Other officers are Sue Glasco, vice president; Patricia Evans, secretary; and Erika Hookham, treasurer. Yavonne Field-Bagwell is the Guild liaison with the JALC website, and Pamela Braswell is the new editor of The Writer’s Voice, the SIWG newsletter.

The Ray Hancock Conference Center is on the north end of the main building. There is parking in Parking Lot D outside the Center--although visitors can park in other lots and go into the bottom floor and walk past the Terrace Dining Room Annex, where the Guild usually meets and go up the hall to north part of the building to find Room F-119.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Strange and Unscheduled Week

I have not meant to change my writing date from Wednesday to Saturday, even though it seems as if that has happened. Our lives have been in too much turmoil to keep any kind of schedule for several weeks now.

Gerald and I drove to the Crabb-Abbott Farm east of Vienna on Tuesday after stopping for a hamburger at Ned’s Shed. It was raining too hard to walk down to the creek where the Trail is most obvious, but 88 people braved the rain to come out for the unveiling of the sign marking the farm as one segment of the Cherokee’s Trail of Tears.

We stood in Joe and Ethel’s open garage for brief meetings before and after the unveiling. Our Trail of Tears Association president Sandy Boaz told us that when she checked the Daniel Butrick journal, she found it was also raining on January 8, 1839. Then we all headed over to the Dixon Springs State Park kitchen, where Joe and Ethel and their daughters served us all chili, white chili, hot dogs, and all kinds of other extras and goodies including a surprise birthday cake for Joe.

A special treat for me was being able to visit with the Jim and Maybelle Watkins family--who were my Jonesboro neighbors on Cook Avenue when I was growing up. Their son Jim and wife Nancy were also there. Jim had been in my mother’s classroom in the second grade and then again when she was moved to teach fourth grade to his class two years later.

That night we learned the sad news that the bone marrow test for Gerald’s brother Ken showed an abundance of leukemia cells again. We went up to the hospital the next day and intended to stay all night with our daughter’s family in Lake Saint Louis and come home Thursday morning.

Instead Gerald’s sister Ernestine flew in from Rock Springs, Wyoming, and we met her plane Thursday afternoon. Ken and Opal had been told by the doctor that morning that he would receive a transfusion and platelets and be sent home since the chemo had not worked and the doctor could do nothing more for Ken.

Unfortunately and weirdly in all our opinions, the transfusion and platelets did not arrive for Ken until almost midnight. His two daughters were able to take Ken and Opal from the hospital a little before 2 a.m. on Friday morning and they arrived at their Marion home at 4 a.m. It had been a long and exhausting time--over a day and a half for Ken and Opal when they were finally able to go to bed in their own bed Friday morning.

Since then Ken has been rejoicing at being home, and he and Opal have been holding open house to their children, grandchildren, and siblings. Today their son took Ken and Opal on the drive he wanted to Union County and visited with several of Opal’s family who brought him all Ken’s favorite treats they could think of. He went to bed early tired but happy I think.

We have been sharing Ernestine with her other brothers and wives. Consequently, we’ve been treated to dinner at Cracker Barrel last night and at Ryan’s tonight.

The downstairs Christmas tree is back in the closet where it belongs, but some of the ornaments are still spread out on the bed in that room. Upstairs, when we got home with Ernestine, I put away all the holiday accessories that were lying on the bed in the guest bedroom waiting to be put away. Yesterday I took the living room tree down and boxed up those ornaments, but I could not get one part of the tree pulled apart to fit in the box. I must call that to Gerald's attention to finish that job for me.

Yesteday I barely made it to a doctor's appointment made a year ago, and the office was all torn up and being painted. The woman at the desk explained that our answering machine had not worked when they tried to phone and cancel the appointment. Having been told my new glasses would be ready this week, I then fought the after-school traffic and went to get them assuming they too had been unable to leave the message on the non-working answering machine. There after a wait, the right person got off the phone to tell me that they had been mistaken--because of some problem my glasses had to be outsourced and maybe I would get them next week--although she wasn't sure.

As I said, the week has been filled with unscheduled activities as well as ones scheduled.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Finishing Up, Putting Away, Ending Christmas Season

Usually our trees are not still up this long, but there they are in the family and living room asking me, “When are you going to get busy and take me down?” I always leave the trees up until after New Year’s Day as that is part of the holiday season for me personally. The wreath on the front door blew off a couple of days ago, so I did carry it inside. And I have started removing the smaller accessories and decorations and placing them in the guest bedroom. There they await my hauling the storage boxes out of that room’s closet. I should be free of tinsel and glitter by the end of next week.

On the other hand, I am just now getting Christmas cards sent to Gerald’s relatives. I have our addresses filed in four folders: my family folder of Martin-Rockenmeyer addresses, Glasco-Wenger folder with their family addresses, Local friends' folder, and Away friends' folder. I lost the Glasco-Wenger folder, which just showed up in the garage of all places this week. Ah well.

I still pass out cards at our village church rather than spend money on stamps. My dear friend and neighbor, the late Helen Beasley had the girls she led in a youth organization to deliver our cards at church so we could put more money into our mission offering. I still do this every year in remembrance of Helen.

We drove up to John Cochran V.A.Hospital on Wednesday to see Gerald’s brother Ken because Gerald and his sister were so discouraged after talking to Ken and Opal on Tuesday. We went late in the afternoon since Opal’s sister and husband had also planned to visit that day. We were thrilled at how rested Ken and Opal looked. Their night sleep is broken up almost every hour, so they can’t be getting much rest. But when Ken feels good, that refreshes them like nothing else. And Ken felt good on Wednesday. The platelets and antibiotics administered through the hard-to-place port in his neck artery had done their job. He looked good, and two successful therapy sessions that morning had reinforced his knowledge that he was stronger.

The next day Ken was running fever again. This has been typical through this long ordeal since he entered the hospital on November 28. Up and down. Hope and horror. After his diagnosis of leukemia on February 8 (I think it was.), Ken and Opal spent 73 days in the hospital, where she was always his willing personal attendant. Then with the remission, Ken was back enjoying life again--first slowly and then back on his bulldozer doing the work he loves. We were all ready to claim a permanent miracle and were not prepared for the leukemia to come back--despite being warned.

So with the 73 days plus the newest 38 days and counting, Ken and Opal have spent a large part of the past year in the hospital. Now if the antibiotics work to clear up the infection in his blood stream, the fevers go away, the fungus infection resulting from all the use of antibiotics doesn’t cause problems, Ken is anticipating being able to come home to Marion and celebrate his birthday on January 20 with his brothers at Cracker Barrel, according to their brotherly tradition. I suspect the crowd will be larger than usual that morning and the mood joyous.

With Ken, our grandson Trent, and our daughter Katherine all very ill this holiday season, it has not been a normal celebration for us. On the other hand, we are more grateful than usual for God’s gift of His son to redeem and help us through whatever the new year brings.

I better quit writing and take down and put away a few more decorations.