Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sunshine and Rain, Sadness and Joy

Life rolls on too full and at too fast a pace despite the lack of an email account. This has been a week of contrasts including fear, grief, and celebration.  After weeks of being careful to avoid falls on ice, tor the first time in a long time, I walked down our lane to the mailbox on Tuesday. I did not even wear a hat because it felt good to have balmy breezes gently moving my hair.  Only a thin layer of ice covered our lake with many gaps with water showing through.  Since then we have had another lovely day and then a rainy day yesterday with tornado warnings and high winds last night.  All the ice is gone from the lake today, and the weather is nice.

Not as nice as it is in Orlando where the University of Georgia Bulldogs are playing in the Citrus Classic softball tourney. We have  spent a large part of the day in Gerald’s office downstairs watching ESPN3 on the computer.  Mary Ellen and Fifi  had come over for a morning visit and enjoyed the game with us. We saw Geri Ann not only pitch a good game against Marshall, but also hit two grand slams in that game.  Freshman Bekah Farris came in to relieve Geri Ann, and they combined for a shut-out game winning 17-0 in five innings. The Georgia hitters were showing their stuff with two more homeruns by Kaylee Puailoa and two more by Paige Wilson and Maeve McGuire, both players from Illinois.

This afternoon Mary Ellen came back and our friend Don Boyd joined us as we watched the Bulldogs put down North Carolina State 8-0 also in five innings.  Chelsea Wilkinson pitched a complete game shut-out.  Geri Ann, Alex Hugo, and freshman Bethany Beggs hit the three homeruns in that game.  Needless to say, the Glasco family was in high spirits at the end of the afternoon, and we needed that. 

Our week has been filled with sadness.  Last Friday Gerald and I enjoyed dinner out for Valentine’s Day before I went on to spend the evening with our daughter Katherine as I do most nights. I came home and checked the computer as I also do most nights to distract myself from the grief of what multiple sclerosis has done to our beautiful and talented daughter.  I try to turn off my mind from the evening’s sufferings  before I go to bed and try to sleep. But the first message I saw on Facebook was from a daughter of Sam White, our friend and former pastor for over nine years. Laurel  shared that he was being brought home from Barnes-Jewish Hospital in Saint Louis to have hospice care. He had lost his battle with leukemia, after all.  There was nothing more the hospital could do.  Before I had finished crying over that message, I read the second message directly beneath that one from Sam’s other daughter.  Aimee told us that when he reached their Makanda home, Sam passed away.

Last fall just when Sam was ready with prepared syllabi to begin a full time teaching position with Morthland College, he learned the reasons for his health problems.  Soon he was a Barnes-Jewish with the diagnosed of leukemia.  Sam and Pam are both writers, and they and their two daughters kept their many friends from around the world updated on Facebook as they shared their struggle with this awful illness. Pam managed to continue to teach art and music at  DeSoto elementary school and carefully guarded her sick days to still be in St. Louis when Sam needed her. Driving through all the bad weather and managing to always find good things to share with us, Pam told of their struggle while constantly expressing appreciation for the friends who helped her at school and home and for the many visitors and prayers said for their family.  Her inspirational posts kept us close and reminded us of God’s love.

People celebrated with Sam and Pam when he was released from the hospital to come home for Christmas and to continue his recovery there.  We rejoiced with his family as they had a wonderful Christmas together celebrating the birth of Christ and Sam’s successful stem cell transplant from his brother Cecil. Although it was still necessary for many return trips to St. Louis, finally as he improved, some procedures were able to be done at the Carbondale hospital. With all the bad weather  and Pam’s full teaching schedule, friends knew how stressful and exacting their lives were even as they rejoiced at his recovery. Sam and Pam were strong and resilient and eager to use every new experience including all the hardships to serve wherever life required them to be. 
Before he pastored churches in our area, Sam and Pam had worked many years with college students and eventually ended back in this ministry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. (That is how Katherine knew Pam and Sam.) After they left the SIUC ministry, Sam continued as a volunteer helping international students in English and in any way he could as their friend. Because they had so many close friends and multitudes of connections locally and around the world, Facebook was the only efficient way for their family to answer the questions about Sam’s condition and the bombardment of concern. 

Sam spent his last Valentine’s Day with Pam, the love of his life. They used that last day together to share their love with each other and to prepare for Hospice and his approaching death. They barely arrived at their home in Makanda before Sam spoke his last word:  Home.  His son Mike felt Sam meant it both literally and metaphorically as he arrived at home and was transported to his heavenly home.  Although she had expected some more days with him, she realized that Sam had held on so she would not have to make that return trip home without him. 

The visitation and the celebration of Sam’s life at his funeral brought many friends and family to support and share their grief with Pam and their children.  We did not try to go because we had our own hospital visit to make Wednesday for tests and procedures.  We took overnight cases with us in case we needed to stay over night. I would not be honest if I did not admit to fear. Mary Ellen came over to stay with me in the visitors room and to drive her dad home if reports were good.  They were.  Very good. Gerald invited us to celebrate with a late afternoon meal at Cracker Barrel on the way home. The nurse who heard him broke into a praise for the chicken and dumplings there.  I always order the grilled fish dinner,  but she threw a craving on me.  The dumplings were as good as she said.  Gerald followed the doctor’s orders and took the next day easy, and so did I.  Katherine had arranged for another aide to be with her the last two evenings, so I was glad to see her again tonight.

I hadn’t realized the Florida tournament started today, and I had planned to start cleaning off at least one paper piled desk in my office.   Instead I watched the Georgia reach their 11-0 record for early season play.  Tomorrow we will be watching the games on game tracker as usual, but exciting images from today’s plays will help us visualize those hard-hitting Dawgs.

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