Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hosanna! Hosanna!

Palm Sunday was a good day. We were reminded through music and drama at First Baptist Church in Marion of what the Lord has done for us. The visually pleasing set took us back to another time, and the music by the large choir was lovely and uplifting. The huge cast meant many children and adults had the benefit of religious education that participating in drama provides. The woman portrayed at the well made it clear that God knows our hearts and wants us to live happier lives. The disciples at table with Jesus reminded us of what He must still face. The heartbreak of Peter as he faced what he had done was very moving as was the Lord’s forgiveness. We left wanting to sing praises to the One who loves and forgives so willingly.

Nature at this time of year celebrates the resurrection in a dramatic fashion also. Daffodils brighten the rural roadsides and city lawns. Two geese have made their appearance on our lawn and the lake. They wander close together as the love birds they are, and I assume somewhere is hidden a carefully built nest accumulating eggs. We are anticipating the goslings, which soon will be trailing them. Gerald started cleaning out and painting the martin houses for this season; and before he finished, the first rush of birds showed up to occupy them. A flock of canvas back ducks on their way north settled on the south end of the lake.

Katherine had enough help she wanted me to have the weekend off, and I enjoyed it. I was tired after adding two weeks of physical therapy to my normal activities. I took advantage by getting lots of rest and watching softball with Gerald. I had missed Oregon’s Friday evening game against Washington, which Oregon won 8-0 when Cheridan Hawkins pitched a perfect 5-inning game. I was actually glad, however, I missed Alabama shutting out A&M on the Crimson Tide’s home field that evening.

The next morning I changed bed linens, did some laundry, and fixed Saturday lunch, but Saturday afternoon would be devoted to softball—A&M on Gerald’s computer and Geri Ann and the Ducks on the television. Well, it was not a good softball day for our clan. I thoroughly expected the Aggies to come back strong and win after Friday’s humiliation, and we were proud when A&M was ahead for five innings. We did grow nervous as the score gradually tightened, and then #5 ranked Alabama ended up winning 8-5 over 23-ranked A&M. As if that were not disappointing enough, the Ducks lost 10-2 in five innings after a 13-game winning streak, and Jamie Takeda was injured in a collision in the outfield. Geri Ann had pitched the first four innings, and after that we did enjoy seeing her play in the outfield for the first time any of us could remember except maybe in grade school summer ball. Mary Ellen had dropped in to see the end of the game, and we consoled each other over the gloomy outcomes as we ate a bite of supper.

But Sunday afternoon was another story. At Tuscaloosa, A&M won 11-5 and looked like a different ball team. Not liking the way losing felt, the Ducks came on with great power and won 15-6 in five innings with eight home runs breaking the university’s record for one game. For us it was great fun because three of those home runs were Geri Ann’s. I figured that broke her personal record, but Gerry reminded us she had done that for Georgia against South Carolina. Mary Ellen had brought over a frozen pizza to pop in the oven for supper, and this time we munched happily as we watched the end of the game.

Jeannie was grateful for the weekend away from chemo and seeing Cecelie, her and Rick’s youngest, play Cecily in The Importance of Being Ernest. But today it was back to Wisconsin for Jeannie. And I am going in now for a brief evening shift at Katherine’s.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Today was a special day because 85 years ago on this day Gerald was born. Everyone agrees that he does not look nor act his age, but we celebrated his age today! Hard work outside, disciplined exercise here in the house, and recent physical therapy have all had their desired result, and he remains strong and active. No, not as strong and active as five years ago, but he’s looking good. He was kept busy throughout the day answering his cell phone to receive birthday greetings. He had already had his birthday breakfast with his brothers and nephews in Jonesboro yesterday, so his calendar was freed up for today.

Our youngest daughter Mary Ellen and husband Brian picked us up for a visit to a large church that they discovered when Brianna first went to Murray State. The building is very user friendly, and Mary Ellen especially wanted us to see the children’s area with its farm theme dreamed up by the pastor, who is also a part-time cattle farmer.

I’d heard enough about it to want to see these amazing attractive rooms that have an inside barn construction two-stories high and life-size plastic tractors for children to climb on among other attractions. In one room, I also noticed multiple computers for the children to use. It was a fascinating venue for Bible study for children to grow up in, and I am sure the children enjoy it, while they learn that we reap what we sow and that God, who created this world, gives the increase.

I am also convinced that in smaller congregations children can fortunately be taught those important life lessons seated at the table with loving teachers—especially those who know children learn by doing and, thus, do not follow the “sit still while I instill” method.

Best of all, children can be taught at the kitchen table with parents or during bedtime devotions, and perhaps most importantly by observing adults at home and in the community who try to live by Jesus’ teachings. After our worship there in the attractive auditorium and enjoying Mary Ellen’s tour of the children’s spaces, we drove through beautiful Kentucky Lake roads and on to the nearby Patti’s restaurant, which also has elaborate but homespun d├ęcor.

The food was excellent and servings large enough that some had to be brought home. Service by friendly waitresses in yesteryears’ long cotton dresses were able to create a feeling of conviviality in the room we shared with other tables of guests. Gerald was one of three in our room who was celebrating a birthday, and we were invited each time to sing along with the family wishing their loved one happiness. We found ourselves sharing smiles and remarks with other guests when we exited.

We got home in time to catch the end of Oregon’s second softball game at Salt Lake against Utah. We had already been getting phone messages about the game from Gerald’s sister Ernestine and her husband Don, who had traveled there from Rock Springs to see Geri Ann play yesterday and today. Texas A&M won over South Carolina in l0 innings on Friday but was rained out yesterday, but they won two games today, so we knew Gerry was in good spirits. Oregon is supposed to play a third game tomorrow, but they too may be rained out.

On our end of the state, Katherine had enlisted help for today, so I could spend the day with Gerald. At the other end of the state, Rick was taking our Jeannie to Wisconsin to start her chemo tomorrow. I marvel at the advances and discoveries of the scientists and doctors who treat the many diseases and health problems inflicting us humans, but I am also very thankful for all the friends and the many people, many we do not even know, who have committed to praying for Jeannie.

Monday, March 16, 2015


Although we missed out on one big snow while we were gone, we came home from Texas to experience the next one. Schools were closed, and people were pretty much home bound by the ice and snow.

Our middle daughter Jeannie has been our extremely dedicated bicycle rider and healthy food advocate. We were shocked to find out that a second surgery was required after a negative biopsy. We delayed our trip up to Jeannie’s because of the fear of roads. (I felt as if the worst thing we could do was to go up and have an accident and add to family woes.) We were glad we waited. Despite the snow in the fields beside the highways for the length of state, the roads were all fine. So we arrived last Friday—the day Jeannie came home from the University of Wisconsin hospital a day early, which we thought was a very good sign.

The weather had not only gone from bad to beautiful in Freeport, but we had to laugh when Gerald reported from a phone call to our nephew DuWayne that the temperature down here was colder that where we were at the north end of the state.

Once Jeannie arrived at home, her positive attitude kicked in, and she started walking every day. She is determined to be as healthy as possible as she recovers from this unexpected adversity in her life. Since she is not allowed to ride her bike yet, she is substituting walking. Her daughter and son-in-law arrived the same day we did. Mike left Sunday with Millie and Sidney (their big dogs), but Leslie stayed to support her mother. Despite a busy high school schedule and working a shift Saturday at the thrift store where she clerks, Cecelie was in and out with her boyfriend. They impressed us with their serious chemistry study at the dining room table after we ate.

Leslie was there until Thursday of this week when she back flew home to Nashville. Elijah was on spring break from Illinois State, and he arrived the day after us on Saturday in perfect timing to work the opening day at the famous Union Dairy (the place where people in Freeport go to get their ice cream cones every spring and summer). He was able to see how well his mother looked, take Leslie to the airport, and make himself useful during the week however he could. I am sure Cecelie was glad to have the companionship of her siblings during this time.

And I am sure they ate well all week, because Jeannie’s church was sending food. We enjoyed part of that good homemade food. I even came home with the recipe that the pastor’s wife sent with her Quinoa chicken salad. I had just learned its surprising pronunciation before we went to Jeannie’s, but I had never eaten it. Now if I can find it at the grocery store, maybe I will cook it and join the other gluten-free Quinoa enthusiasts. We were especially blessed Saturday evening to get to hear Leslie and Elijah practice “At the Table of the Lord,” which Jeannie had requested that they sing the next day at their morning service.

We felt we needed to leave Sunday morning instead of going to worship with them, because we wanted to stop in Mattoon to see my brother Jim, who is still recovering from the heart procedures earlier this year. After a lazy and pleasant breakfast at our motel, we took off. We knew my nephew Robert was staying with Jim and Vivian this winter helping them—they brag on his cooking. We were looking forward to seeing him for the first time in a long while. We were even more excited when we arrived to find our great nephew Sean and his two sons there visiting. I had not seen Sean since he was a young boy and had never met their toddler Lincoln (called Linc) nor Vincent Indiana Roland Jones, age 5, and called Indy. Linc had beautiful red hair, the kind we had always wished someone would inherit from Vivian. She graciously explained that Sean’s wife Paige had red hair in her family too. They soon had to leave, but Indy sparkled and entertained us while they were there, and I had to notice his excellent vocabulary.

As I had hoped, next my niece Judi dropped in. We had missed Sean’s brother Ryan from Champaign-Urbana, who visited the day before. And we had to leave before our niece Jane and her daughter Vanessa dropped in, but we still felt we had great dividends for stopping for that brief visit and seeing so many of the family.

We have had a busy week here as one of Katherine’s new aides ended up at the doctor’s with kidney stones and was unable to work all week. Fortunately that aide was friends with another woman who came part of the aide’s shifts, and I helped out as did some of Katherine’s friends who have generously given her their help. This was spring break for schools in our area, so Sam and his dad David had gone to visit a couple of colleges in the Southeast. With Trent on break to go with them, Brian and Mary Ellen traveled down to visit Brianna at Disney World. Fifi, who travels well, was able to go along because Brianna was missing her too. She was able to stay in the kennel there since Brianna had a discount. Mary Ellen and Brian must have felt rejuvenated by their trip, because they were already heads up painting the ceiling in their living room changing the brown wooden tiles to white. It was looking good when I stopped by. I got an air hug from Trent, who wasn’t feeling well. I had never had an air hug before but I imitated and sent one back.

I think all the family is back in place now, and we are hoping Katherine’s aide has no more health problems. I finally had my evaluation appointment, and I will start two weeks of physical therapy on Tuesday, Most of all, we are praying that the week goes well for Jeannie as her treatment continues. So many people are praying for her, and we would be grateful if you would too. She might get to complete her planned bicycle last lap to the Gulf Coast this summer after all.