Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Religious Experience

Prior to September 11, 2001, I was never terrified of flying. Three months later, I prepared myself for a trip to New York City to see long-time friends. We had not gathered in 13 years.

Seeing my friends again was magical. We knew each other while living in the Hawaiian Islands, staying in touch since first meeting in 1983. Our reunion led me to a renewed sense of myself I lost touch with over the course of many years.
Saturday, December 8, I told my Catholic friends my desire to attend Mass the next morning at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Church with them. They agreed the venture to St. Patrick’s was a good idea. I called another Catholic friend to see if he would like to join us; and he met us at St. Patrick’s for the 9:00 a.m., service.
 From historical notes, I learned St. Patrick’s Cathedral has served as a place of comfort and solace for millions of people since the church first opened in 1879. Today, over three million people a year come from all over the world to visit one of New York City’s most magnificent cathedrals of worship. Cardinal Spellman is quoted as saying, “At its portals, the world seems left behind and every advancing step brings heaven nearer and deepens the soul’s union with Divinity.”
 Possibly as a form of rebellion and most definitely in reaction to my formal religious training, I walk a path of my own spiritual choosing. I feel more at ease having my information come from intuition, my “guides.” I chose to discover my divine guidance, specified in the Swedish proverb, “The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your arm.”
After taking my seat, being one of approximately 2,200 present, I picked up a Bible from the pew in front of me. I began flipping through the pages, coming upon a separate section at the very back. On a page added, the reader was advised who was and who was not eligible to receive Holy Communion. It read, “Those who have committed a grave sin may not receive holy Communion,” … After reading this I thought to myself, “I am going to receive my first Communion!”
 Our time came to join the long communion line. With my friends behind me, I went to the front of the church for this holy moment. I was unable to see how one receives Communion. I could only see backs of heads as we were in a single file line. 
When it was my turn to receive the highly sought after communion wafer, I said to the priest, “This is my first time receiving Communion. Since I am not Catholic, I am not sure what I am supposed to do.” There was an uncomfortable silence during which, I noticed the priest’s body visibly stiffen. “You are not Catholic?” he queried. “No, I am not Catholic,” I repeated, shaking my head from left to right. He replied, “Then, you may not receive Communion.”
I stood beneath the extraordinarily high cathedral ceiling of this stain-glassed architectural masterpiece, and thought to myself, “What is a person like me doing in a place like this?”
As I walked silently back to my pew, I wondered if the “church” believed Jesus would praise this priest for his righteousness. Would it occur to the Catholic Church hypocrisy and hopeless discrimination had just been imposed upon me? Is being Catholic a prerequisite for receiving the love of Jesus Christ into our lives?
The remainder of the service captivated me. “Remove All Negativity From Your Life.” With tremendous conviction, the priest continued we couldn’t merely say we are going to remove negativity; we must act on it now.
I looked at the congregation, wondering who was living an emotionally and/or physically destructive relationship. I pondered the priest’s theory. Were these individuals being limited to merely praying for a way to end their unhappiness, so they could begin living a healthy, optimistic life?
Perhaps after years of badgering, threats of terror, degrading verbiage or other types of pessimism, their abuser had beaten down, physically and/or verbally, the abused until she or he became a severely damaged human being. Did this sermon hold hope for these individuals? If married, is divorce an option? At what point are the disheartened allowed to bring the “love of Jesus into their lives”?  
By the time the four of us exited the grand doorway onto the cold steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, my enthusiasm for this place of worship drastically diminished. In this church’s eyes, I did not belong and was unable to participate in all this holy sanctuary reportedly offered. Ironically, during the course of the service the offering basket came around twice; on both occasions my money was taken. My donation was whole-heartedly accepted, yet I was not.
More than 2,000 years after Jesus’ short-lived life, worldwide human non-acceptance continues, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"Charles, Jr."

In August of 1999, our family was on a road trip to Disneyland in a rented RV. It was a vacation, including six teen-agers, two of who were Ross, my deceased brother’s, kids. Spencer, our son, was two-and-half years old at the time. I remember my mother telling me, I ought to have my head examined for attempting such an excursion. As it turned out, this journey was a memorable one.
            We made several stops along the way to various sites, such as Hearst Castle. We rode horses at a dude ranch and spent the night at a hot springs “resort” for RV drivers. Did you know the smelly waters of hot springs could turn even your most precious jewelry a greenish black?
            At last, we arrived at Disneyland and checked into the Disneyland Hotel. The teen-agers were excited to get onto the rides. They were given their passes and off they ran. I stayed with Spencer, while my husband caught up to the others to enjoy big-kid rides. It was early in the afternoon when Spencer and I took the tram to Disneyland.
The intense Southern California sun was relentless. I pushed Spencer’s covered stroller to a water fountain, lifting him out so we could splash water on our faces. We were at the fountain approximately 10 minutes when a tall, blond, handsome fellow in his early 30’s, approached. He commented on how much fun we were having, watching us with envy and sadness. I looked closely at this man’s face and could see an empty, faraway look in his eyes. What was he thinking at this moment? What happened to this gentle-faced young man? I took the time to listen.
Holding Spencer’s hand, I asked this man why he approached. He said he had a son, Charles Jr., who was also two-years old, with blond hair and blue eyes. I told him I was enjoying my life with my son, feeling blessed having him. Charles Sr. pulled out of his wallet a well-worn photograph. A smiling boy, sitting next to the edge of his swimming pool, was wearing only a diaper. It was then the man began his story.
Charles Sr. was from Mariner’s Cove, the Hawaii Kai side of Oahu, Hawaii. I told him I lived on Oahu eight years, having attended the University of Hawaii. I spent a majority of my time in Mariner’s Cove with a family who accepted me as their calabash, or adopted daughter. I knew Hawaii Kai very well and even knew of the street on which he lived. What a twist of fate he and I should meet today.
One day, Charles Sr., and his young son were in their fenced backyard, sitting by the pool, playing. Thirsty for water, Dad carried Charles Jr., outside the pool area, setting him down near the gate. Dad had an eight-foot high, security-alarmed gate surrounding the pool, with a lock on the gate. After a mere two minutes, Dad returned to the pool area, calling his son. No answer. As Dad rounded the corner, to his horror he discovered Charles Jr., face down in the swimming pool, with his water-filled diaper visible.
Dad dove into the pool, pulled his son out of the water and administered CPR. With his portable telephone nearby, he dialed 911. The paramedics arrived, also administered CPR, only to deliver the most shocking news to Charles Sr., “I am sorry, Sir, we are unable to revive your son.”
Spencer and I stood quietly.  Charles Sr. broke the silence by telling me no matter how much security I think I have; never turn my back on my young son when he is near water. I nodded in agreement. I thanked this man for approaching and sharing his story. He told me the likeness of my son to Charles Jr., was so overwhelming, he felt compelled to talk with me. To this day, when Spencer is near water, I look back into the eyes of Charles Sr., and am reminded of his beautiful young son.
Charles Sr. has a gorgeous blond daughter now, whom we met. He displays a tremendous amount of devotion to his young daughter.
We do not know what awaits us around the corners of our lives.  We can, however, recognize and acknowledge the precious treasures we are given. When I look into Spencer’s eyes, I know I do. 

"Placard 152"

       It was time to find a friend for Shiloh, my rescue steer. We acquired him two months earlier and no matter how much I fed him, brushed him and loved him, he continued to wander to the neighbor’s ranch in search of companionship with their bull. I could not stand the thought of him being in his pasture alone a moment longer. Wanting him to stay with me, I knew he needed a companion of his own kind.
   Spencer and I were leaving our ranch one morning, we stopped at another neighbor’s to say hello. I told them about our plans to spend the day at the auction and then we continued on our way. We were going to bring a young girlfriend home for Shiloh.
      When we arrived, the entire scene immediately put me in the past, to my childhood. I felt a strange sense of déjà vu; I was with my mother and Ross, my brother. Back then; we were waiting for my mother to bid on two calves, one for Ross and one for me.
      Now, 33 years later the auction seemed strikingly similar. Even the tiny café slinging greasy hamburgers, had the same appearance and feel. The cowboys and cowgirls ordered, patiently awaiting their meals. Spencer and I purchased a bottle of apple juice, found nothing else desirable and made our way to the equipment sales lot.
     We needed a trailer to transport Shiloh’s new companion back to the ranch. Soon, I found the perfect one. Its blue trim was the same color of our vehicle, so I bought it and we headed back to the auction arena.
      We had 30 minutes until the auction began. I opened our red cooler box and we ate lunch in the arena seating area. We enjoyed a delicious meal of organic yogurt; roasted soybeans; sliced vegetables; soymilk; applesauce; cheese and crackers; peanut butter crackers and juice.
     Show time! With Spencer and me in the front row, the calves paraded through the doors. In anticipation of the perfect heifer calf, I held my auction placard, #152. A tiny black and white something-or-other appeared. The auctioneer was talking so fast; I had no idea what he was saying.
     Innocently, I raised my placard to get his attention. The talking stopped and the animals filed out. Hmmm, I wondered. Did I buy that little black and white one? It was very adorable. Just in case I wasn’t the successful bidder, I thought, “Let’s try again.” 
      Another group of young calves ambled into the arena. I instantly spied another sweet face and held my placard high. Several other attendees raised their cards and not knowing what to do next, I kept my arm extended. My mind was tumbling in a sea of overly tight Wrangler jeans and beat-up cowboy hats. I wondered what I should do.
       Another group of young calves appeared. “Oh, look at that one over there, Spencer. Is that the kindest face on an animal?” Once again, I hoisted my placard skyward. Suddenly, the auction arena went silent as the auctioneer pointed at me and hollered into the microphone, “Do you know what you are doing here? Have you ever been to an auction?” I proudly told the auctioneer of my days at the auction some 33 years ago. Listening to the chuckles coming from the audience, I knew it was time for us to leave.
     Once inside the auction office, I handed the clerk my placard. She clicked away at her keyboard, printed up a sheet of paper and handed it to me. I was stunned to learn, I purchased not one, but three calves. I was informed two of the three were just a month old. They would need to be bottle-fed twice daily for six months.
       I nearly collapsed, as I already owned 24 other ranch animals. I wrote a check for the three calves, averaging $100.00 each. Hand in hand, Spencer and I walked outside. I needed a breath of fresh air. The calves were loaded into our shiny new trailer and it was time to make our way home. I never pulled a trailer and did not want anyone to realize how green I was at this auction business. Now, I longed for someone to follow our expanding herd home.
      The auction feed store had no calf milk formula; however, they gave us directions to another store a few miles down the road. There we found everything we needed to supplement and sustain our new calves. We purchased bottles, powdered calf milk and powdered vitamins. We were on the road again 45 minutes later.
      We were back at the ranch that evening at 7:00. When we arrived, I wondered how in the world I was going to unload the three calves from the back of the trailer. Being barely able to drive forward with the new trailer attached, I knew I had no chance of successfully backing the trailer up to the pen.
      All of a sudden, I saw headlights coming up our driveway. Knowing Spencer and I were returning from the auction that evening, my neighbors came to see if I needed assistance. I could hardly believe my eyes and was so thankful. They backed the trailer up to the pen and together; we unloaded the calves into their new home. They rinsed the trailer and put fresh straw into the stall for the calves’ bedding.
      I thanked them profusely for their help and bid them goodbye. Before leaving, they told me within a week’s time they would be moving up north. Once again, I felt my world falling apart. How would I manage without them? Since Mo Kitty, their cat, spent most of his time at my home anyway, they asked if I would take him. They barely extended their offer when I declared, “Yes, of course!”  I did it again. My love of animals overwhelmed any reasonable thoughts associated with the effort it would take to care for them.
      My husband was out of town and I was on my own that night. It was way past feeding time for the two young calves. Spencer was still asleep in the car, so I raced into the house to put the bottles together. Believing the most difficult part of this adventure behind me, I was anxious to feed the new calves and have them begin feeling at home.
      The calves, however, wanted nothing to do with the bottles or me. In their eyes and through their actions, I sensed their concerns, “Where is my mother? What is that funny shaped nipple Deborah is holding? Why is she trying to put it in our mouths?” I desperately and unsuccessfully attempted to feed them. Finally, I stopped and put the bottles down. I needed to feed the other ranch animals, take Spencer out of the car, prepare our dinner and tend to his nightly routine.
      Later that evening at 11:00, I called my mother, recounting the day’s events. Frustrated and exhausted, I hung up the telephone to prepare myself for a good night’s rest. An hour later unable to sleep, I crept out of bed. Dressed in my white nightgown and cowboy boots, I headed back out to the stall carrying warm milk for my two youngest calves. Again, they raced around in circles until I finally gave up.
      I lay down on top of the fresh straw, crying for what seemed an eternity. I feared my calves would go hungry and die of starvation during the night. They watched me and wondered what was happening. I came to the realization; I could not care for them on my own. I was overwhelmed with the feeling I was in way over my head.
      At 7:30 the next morning, I telephoned a neighbor telling him what happened the day before. He bellowed into my unprepared ear, “You did what? You have two bottle babies?” Immediately he barked, “I’ll be right over,” and hung up. Within 20 minutes he arrived at our ranch.
Without hesitation, he grabbed one of the two bottles, cornered Freckles, the one with, “the kindest face on an animal,” holding him around the neck. With his enormous fingers, he pried open the smallest bull calf’s mouth, shoving the bottle in. Within seconds, Freckles was suckling. Cody Bleu, the other bull calf, was a month older and did not need to be bottle-fed.
      Next he grabbed Patches, the “tiny black and white something-or-other,” backing her hind end into the corner of the corral. I watched in amazement as he pried the very adorable heifer calf’s mouth open, starting the feeding process. I was transfixed by yet another learning experience.
       As I observed, I suddenly felt as though the hairy arms cradling Patches did not belong to my neighbor, but to Ross, my brother, who died one year before. With his long sleeves rolled up, I watched as those familiar arms fed Patches. I felt a certain closeness to Ross I had not known in the final years of his life.
      Although I did not dare move from where I was standing, I wanted to reach out and touch my brother. Once the ravenous calf emptied the bottle, physical reality set in, replacing my neighbor’s arms with the image of my brother’s. So the tears streaming down my face would not be seen, I grabbed the empty bottles, quickly leaving the pen.
      I will never forget this experience. Although at times I feel lonely, I’m never alone. As I continue my journey through life, knowing this makes all the difference.  

"Between Mother and Daughter"

              Less than two years ago, in July of 1999, my mother and I stood before our relatives and friends, bidding farewell to Ross, my brother, at his funeral.
                 In honor of my late brother’s 40th birthday, on Friday, March 30, 2001, I telephoned my mother. During our hour-long conversation, we discussed various topics. We covered what Ross was doing in the spirit world; to the liver cleanse diet she was beginning that same day. She was excited and hopeful about the liver cleanse diet. We completed our chat with the usual, “I love you.” My mother said she would call Monday morning, April 2nd, my 41st birthday.
           Monday morning came and went. Totally out of character for her, she did not call. Knowing her so well, I was alarmed and about to call her when my telephone rang. It was my stepfather letting me know he admitted my mother to the hospital that morning. When he told me her liver was completely consumed with cancer, my heart sank. I became nauseous while attempting to absorb this information. He mentioned my mother was not informed her liver test results returned with the highest of cancer counts.
My mother’s oncologist told him the liver cancer metastasized from the breast cancer she survived exactly 20 years prior. Having studied Chinese medicine and emotional healing, I knew there was another reason. Every part of one’s body maintains a representation. The breasts symbolize the need to nurture and be nurtured. The liver maintains anger, resentment. The body will attempt to get your attention, one way or another. My mother’s body was sending her another message.
            I immediately called my mother’s hospital room. In a whisper she told me she was fine and would be going home soon. I asked her if Spencer, my young son, and I could come see her in the hospital and she responded, “No, Honey, I’m fine.”
During the next eight days, I called her two to three times daily. In spite of my concern, she continued to insist it was not necessary for me to make the four-hour drive to see her. Finally, I could stand it no longer, packed for a couple of days and headed up. The date was Tuesday, April 10. Spencer stayed with his father while I was away.
            That evening I walked into my mother’s hospital room and was immediately shocked at the sight of her. The woman I’d known 41 years as my mother was drastically changed. I was overwhelmed with terror, grief and shock. She and my stepfather, knowing they could hold me at bay only so long, weren’t surprised to see me.
            I remained at the side of her bed until 10 that evening and we spent hours discussing her current situation. With desperation evident on my face, my mother asked, “Honey, do you believe in miracles?” I responded, “Mom, it was you who taught me to believe in miracles.” She said, “Then let’s pray for a miracle.” It was difficult for me, knowing the seriousness of her health and not revealing it to her, however, I did not want her to give up hope of living. Late that evening, she was beginning to drift in and out of a restless sleep.
Abruptly, her eyes flew open. She asked what kept flying back and forth past the left side of her head. I felt my stomach knot and asked, “Well, what does it look like?” When she replied, “Angels,” I denied what I initially thought. Instead, I told her they were there to comfort her during her stay in the hospital. Later that night before my mother went to sleep, she told me she would be going home the next day and it would not be a moment too soon. I thought to myself, “See there? She is getting better.”
            I sat down in the chair next to her hospital bed, took a deep breath and a long look at her. Her eyes were closed and I assumed she fell asleep. To my surprise, in a whispered voice she asked, “What is he doing here?” I hesitantly looked over my shoulder into an empty, dimly lighted hallway. I asked, “Who, Mom? I do not see anyone.” She replied, “Ross.”
I could not see my brother’s spirit; however, observing her furrowed eyebrows, I knew she was seeing something beyond the usual reach of one’s physical eyesight. To soothe her, I told her he probably just popped in to say a quick hello. She said she did not wish to speak with him, asking me to tell him to leave. Silently, I spoke to my brother’s spirit, letting him know we appreciated his taking the time to visit. I told him at this moment the conversation was between mother and daughter. My mother’s eyes opened and she thanked me.
            The next morning, I spoke with my stepfather on the telephone. He talked with her doctor and was advised she might be going home today. I jumped into my car, drove to the hospital and waited at her bedside for the doctor. It was then she told me of a dream she had the night prior after my departure from the hospital.
My mother dreamed she was still alive and several persons from the hospital staff were wheeling her to the morgue in the basement of the hospital. I felt horrible for not staying next to her hospital bed the prior night. I knew she would not have such a nightmare if I remained with her while she slept.
Her doctor walked in shortly thereafter around 8:15 a.m. I immediately asked for her release papers. He put up his hands and said, “Now hold on, I said she would be released in a day or so.” I saw the pleading look in my mother’s eyes and said, “Don’t worry, Mom, you are going home today.”
I told her doctor to step into the hallway. I asked what needed to be done to expedite the process. He said he would have to make a telephone call in order to be certain the home care equipment could be delivered that morning. I responded, “Then please do it.” He said he had other patients and selfishly, I told him, “You have just one patient right now, my mother. “
The next part of our conversation hit me like an avalanche. He said, “Now look, Debbie, this is all a part of the dying process.” With my heart pounding and through my tears I told him, “No, this is a part of your dying process. Now make it happen so my mother may go home today!” My intense and demanding voice echoed throughout the hospital floor. Shortly thereafter, my mother was home.
            My mother told me she knew her final chemotherapy treatment could be fatal. However, she did not have the courage to counter her doctor’s white jacket of authority. It was her feeling if she refused to undergo this final round of treatment, she would have a much better chance of surviving. Until this conversation, I was unaware of the chemotherapy treatments. Knowing I am a supporter of alternative and nutritional healing methods, she did not wish to tell me about her medical decisions. Now, she realized choosing chemotherapy was a life-threatening decision.
My rescue instincts shifted into high gear and the healing work began. I asked my mother what was killing her. She confided she held unresolved resentment for years. Her feelings were eating her alive; she knew exactly why and when these feelings began.  
We discussed the terror, frustration, guilt and sense of hopelessness, which prevented her from verbalizing her feelings until now. Still, she confessed she was prepared to “die with dignity” rather than take action and make the necessary changes her body demanded. I contemplated the deliberate intentions of my mother’s Master Plan.
It was my mother’s relationship with her own being, which would also be difficult for her to approach. We covered every aspect of her life, from conception to present. Our goal was to release traces of damage from her accumulated negative experiences. Intuitively, I would mention the year her body wanted to discuss. She instantly recounted what occurred during that time frame; what deep-seated issues needed to be addressed.
During the course of our many discussions, the conversation eventually turned to nutrition and changes she needed to make. My Aunt Audrey and Uncle Ron forwarded a copy of Maureen Kennedy Salaman’s book, Nutrition: The Cancer Answer, ll. From my reading of Maureen’s research, I discovered heredity accounts for only five percent of all cancer cases. On the other hand, 70 percent of all cancer deaths are linked to nutrition! Since my mother was well educated in the field of nutrition, she knew to return to a vegetarian diet. What she was not willing to do was honor her body regarding the unresolved resentment she held.
            I contacted healer friends in the Bay Area. They in turn contacted others and a network was formed on her behalf. Prayers came in from all over the country; the support was tremendous. Oddly enough, while reaching for my mother’s Healthy Healing manual by nutritional authority Linda Page, a brochure fell on my head. It was from my mother’s massage therapist. I took this as a sign to arrange for her to have a massage. As luck would have it, this particular massage therapist also did energy-balancing work. Together, we cleared the terror and grief of dying from my mother’s body until it calmed.
            Her body began to reject the canned chicken broth; soon thereafter the canned vegetable broth was also refused. I would not accept the fact her body was denying our efforts. I continued to be optimistic her body would only accept the fresh organic juiced foods my stepfather and I prepared for her.
I refused to give up, regardless of our efforts and despite my recognition of the changes overtaking her. The nights were long and emotionally excruciating for us. With my head nestled next to hers, I cried endlessly, constantly begging her, “Don’t ever leave me, Mom.” She looked at me with the same furrowed brows and said, “Honey Bunny, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be here for you.” For the moment, I was relieved and comforted by the sense of her spiritual immortality.
            During the days, I frantically read books; reviewed faxes received from loved ones, voraciously consuming every bit of available literature on cancer and cancer cures. With knowledge in hand, I would drive to the health food stores with a list of beneficial supplements.
From a private source, because it was unavailable in the health food stores, I acquired the vitamin B17, amygdalin. My review of Ms. Salaman’s Nutrition: The Cancer Answer II educated me regarding the benefits of this supplement. In the book, Maureen advocates the early use of cancer-killing B17. It is found most abundantly in apricot kernels, is capable of killing cancer cells and also has cancer-preventative properties. In December of 2003, Maureen telephoned me, advising she now tells cancer patients, “Don’t even think of eating meat.”
Unfortunately, with the exception of water, my mother could not keep anything down. When she started bleeding from inside her mouth, I prayed the source was merely the thin tissue there. Tissue eroded by the chemotherapy was not yet replaced with new tissue. I learned from my mother, one of the terrible side effects from the chemotherapy was it caused the entire inside of her mouth to have blackened sores.
Those sores extended down her esophagus and she could barely swallow. The pain from these sores would make her eyes water. Having to watch her endure the misery made mine do the same. On one occasion her mouth bled an entire day. Finally, I secured a prescription for Vitamin K, assisting in slowing down the bleeding.
            The next day, I was pulling large pieces of bloodied tissue from her mouth; all the while praying it was not coming up from her stomach. For the balance of that day, she became visibly weaker with no further desire for me to read to her. To that point, I was reading a book to her, by author Louise Hay, entitled, Empowering Women.
      The following day, she asked for her pearls. At first not understanding, I was forced to have her repeat this request. My stepfather retrieved her jewelry box, producing two strands of pearls. I held one strand in each hand. She made her selection and I asked why she wanted to see them. She said she wanted them to go to Kate, the teen-age daughter of Ross, my deceased brother. She wanted Kate to wear them when she married. At that moment, the reality of my mother’s condition hit me. Unable to control myself, I ran to the bathroom crying so hard, I thought I would die.
            That afternoon, my mother told me she needed an epiphany. I heard the word several times and fortunately, I knew how the word was spelled. Not knowing exactly for what my mother was asking, I went to the dictionary and looked it up. There are many definitions of the word. As I read a number of them, she would shake her head from left to right as if to say, “That’s not it.”
Finally I read the following: “A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.” She nodded her head in an up and down “yes” motion. Gently, I leaned over her and asked, “Mom, are you wondering about the spirit world, what you will be doing there and whom you will see?” Her eyes opened wide and she whispered, “Yes.”
She asked about the white light, if there is pain in the spirit world and what her duties would be when she arrived. I pointed to the pictures and displays of angels throughout her home. I explained to her what I learned from Ross and others who crossed over into this dimension. I told her the only emotion she would find on the “other side” is that of pure love. She closed her eyes and smiled.
            The following day, no longer able to endure the pain, my mother requested morphine. I asked her to repeat this request three times to be certain of what I was hearing. Sensing her agony, I telephoned her home health care nurse, who came over and taped the injection to her stomach. My mother did not flinch. I looked at the woman lying on the bed in front of me, the woman I’d known my entire life as “my mom” and realized I no longer recognized this person.
A cold chill ran through my body. I telephoned my mother’s minister, asking her to come over. She visited with my mother, reciting several Bible versus to comfort her. Later that night, I stood next to her bed with my hands face down on her torso. I felt the slight breeze of my mother’s spirit departing her body, leaving behind an empty physical shell. Having held several of my farm animals at the time of their death, I was familiar with this feeling.
My mother lived through one more night. Terrified of having her expire while I slept by her side as I had 10 nights prior, I chose not to sleep next to her that night. My stepfather filled the vacant spot on the couch. The next morning, I bolted out of bed at 6:00 a.m. I raced to my mother’s side, all the while expecting to find a lifeless form.
Instead, I found a completely unrecognizable being. Stunned at the ghastly site of her, I stood back not knowing what to do or think. At last very quietly, I sat down next to her bed, wrapping myself in her favorite blanket. I was in and out of the chair until 10:45 a.m. All the while I thought to myself, “For what, on GOD’s green earth, is she waiting?” Finally, it dawned on me to leave her alone.
I decided to take a bath and “relax” a few minutes. As I was leaning back in my mother’s bathtub, my heart began to pound and my stomach felt uneasy. Jumping out of the tub, I wrapped myself in a towel and ran to her side. Sensing her death was near; I called my stepfather to come quickly. As he walked up and stood beside me next to her bed, my mother took her last breath of life. It was 11:03 a.m., Saturday, April 21.  My mother was only 63 years old.
            A family friend operates our local mortuary. I telephoned, telling him my mother just died. He and an associate immediately came over to the house. With them, they brought a gurney and a body bag. Together, we lifted my mother from her former resting place onto the bag, which lay on top of the gurney. When I tucked her body in, I tenderly touched her face one last time. After a final long gaze at her, I zipped the bag closed. The gurney was rolled out of our living room and into an waiting van.
            That night as I lay in bed, I cried with barely the energy to do so. Overwhelmed with a feeling of emptiness, fear and being alone, I could not believe I was still alive. Then, I remembered my mother’s words, “Honey Bunny, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be here for you.” At that moment, I knew her spirit would guide me the rest of my life.
The same applies when I long for Ross, my brother, who took his life on July 4, 1999. I say his name and once again, I feel he is by my side. Whenever I need my mother, all I have to do is call for her. As always throughout my life, she will be here for me.

In loving memory of Frances Herald Chapter,
My mother
Born: December 19, 1937San FranciscoCA.
Died: April 21, 2001ReddingCA.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there I do not sleep,
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on the snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you waken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
            I am not there,
I did not die. 

Struve and Laporte

"Then He Was Gone"

Lone Pine Ranch, my home, was built in 1950. I currently live there with my family. Despite its age, there has been little upkeep or maintenance.  It stands on pier blocks, has no insulation, a sheet of tin for a roof and the mice roam freely throughout. I love my home.
I was raised in a similar structure on Star Thistle Ranch. My mother would bring home dying calves from the dairy farm up the road. She often placed an ailing newborn calf on a pile of straw in our laundry room, located next to the kitchen. In the same kitchen where she prepared meals, my mother prepared bottles for the calf. She would nurture and care for the calves. Within a matter of days we would peek into the laundry room to discover a standing, healthy calf. My mother would then put that “hopeless” calf in the back of her station wagon and return it to the dairy farm. Our family dwelling was like a revolving door of sorts, always open for visitors and ill animals.
This story takes place on Lone Pine Ranch. I was eight months pregnant, sitting in bed reading one night in October.  It was 11:00 p.m. My husband was away on a business trip. A fierce storm crashed against my dated aluminum-framed windows. I thought to myself, “Will the power go out again?” Having moved here just three months prior, I hardly felt comfortable calling one of my neighbors at this hour.
When we bought the ranch it came with a portable generator. In my present state, I was not up to venturing into the downpour to start it. The generator was an old model and when running, it created the noise of a locomotive in our living room.
I remained in bed hoping the heater and lights would continue. Suddenly, I felt cold and a chill raced across my body. Something did not feel right. At this point, I walked down the dark hallway toward the front of the house.
I tiptoed into the kitchen area and stood at the sink near the stove light. I blinked several times, put my head into my hands, rubbed my eyes and looked again. I asked myself, “Who is that man sitting on my couch?” 
My eight-month pregnant form stood frozen in terror. Someone entered my home to get out of the storm. Why my home? Perhaps because I, like my mother, have an open-door policy for our friends and animals in need.
Since we live 40 minutes from town, I wondered how the man managed to cover the long distance to my home. What should I do? Still petrified in fear, I could barely breathe. The man did not stir. Did he realize I was standing just 30 feet behind him? He appeared to be relaxing, even sleeping.
I took a deep breath, moving several steps toward him. He was a gentleman, appearing to be in his mid-60’s. His hair and beard were white. He wore a large-squared, red, Pendleton-style long-sleeved shirt with blue denim trousers. His brown leather boots were lace-up style.
His hands were folded on his lap, his long legs extended onto my coffee table, one crossed over the other. His eyes remained closed. Was it my elderly neighbor? His fragile body surely would have a difficult time making the long walk to my home.
I walked closer to this kind-faced man, noticing something more astounding. Reality immediately took the place of my uncertainty. I could see through him.
I didn’t give the spirit a chance to deliver his message. I just completed the last two years of my energy-balancing studies during which, emphasis is placed on developing a better understanding of the greater beyond. I was incapable of moving beyond my fear.
 Next, I did what I was taught in my training program. I called on the spirit guide(s) of this man to bring him home to the spirit world. I requested the entity leave at once. In an instant, he sailed out the large window over my front deck towards the east and then he was gone.
Almost four years later, I attended a gathering at a neighboring home. I had not visited this home before. A photograph on the wall stunned me. It was an older gentleman whose hair and beard were white. The headshot photograph on the wall propelled me backward.
I asked a woman standing near, if she knew the man in the photograph. She told me it was the home owner’s father. Having met the owner eight months prior, he told me his father passed away several years ago. The resemblance between the man in the photograph and the presence sitting in my living room that rainy night was shocking.
Since then, I have called upon this spirit in times when anxiety sets in while I’m working my ranch. I wonder if on that cold, stormy night he was trying to give me a message. I feel it is him who helps me through the seemingly impossible difficulties on my ranch.
Situations, whether it is a dying animal or a broken water line, are resolved without my being capable of knowing the outcome. Through this sighting, I learned to trust assistance, in one form or another is merely a thought away.
To this day I think about him. I learned spirits do appear in visible form and we can communicate with them through our thoughts. This gentleman was comfortable enough in my home to fall asleep with his legs on my coffee table. Did he visit my home before I moved here, when he was alive? 
The spirit came to my home, however, not knowing why he was there, I sent him away. Perhaps at some future time he will reappear. Most often late at night, I stand in my kitchen waiting for the man who watches over us on Lone Pine Ranch. 

"ThanksGiving Day"

         “Why is it called ThanksGiving Day?” Spencer, my four-year-old son, asked. I told him it is our time to acknowledge everything for which we are thankful, extending our prayers to those who have many unmet needs. “For us, every day is ThanksGiving Day.”
In the United States around 267 million turkeys are raised each year. Of that total, 45 million are eaten at ThanksGiving, 22 million at Christmas and an additional 19 million at Easter. According to the National Turkey Federation, the United States’ annual consumption of turkey meat is approximately 675 million pounds.
            On ThanksGiving Day 2001, my husband, Spencer and I arrived at the Maple Street Shelter for our scheduled serving time. The shelter was abuzz. I was assigned the task of passing out t-shirts to the shelter’s current residents. The shelter’s inhabitants were extremely appreciative of the t-shirts donated by a local company. I introduced myself to each resident, asked which size they preferred, cheerfully presenting him or her with a folded shirt.
            Toward the end of our time at the shelter, a woman, who I assumed was about my age, approached, asking if she could speak to me for a few minutes. I smiled at her and replied, “Certainly.” She explained just three months prior, Joey, her five-year-old son, was taken from her.
This woman lost her job, car, husband, home and finally, her most precious possession, Joey. She saw me playing with Spencer and reminding her of Joey, it made her cry. Her parole officer told her she could see Joey one last time. She would be allowed to watch him, through the fence at his school and silently say her goodbyes.
            Everyone she knew encouraged her to, “leave the past behind.” I told her she should go see Joey, the sooner the better. Her final image of him was his being taken from her arms by a foster care representative. I felt a healthier image for her to hold onto, would be of Joey playing with his friends.
When we finished chatting, she hugged me for a long moment. When we released each other, she said, “GOD bless you, Debbie.”  Casually, I glanced over her shoulder and saw Spencer watching us.
            Later that day, we arrived at my relative’s home for ThanksGiving dinner. All of my 40-ish cousins were comfortably sitting in one room telling jokes, having a wonderful time. While I was enjoying their company, I could not shake the image of Joey’s mother.
I stood on the side, watching my family serve themselves. I declined several offers to cut in. I was content to view the three generations of loved ones, noticing the subtle changes in each. Those changes occurred over several decades and were nothing more than what we would expect from time.
At that moment, I felt a detachment from any physical presence. It was as though I was observing each of them, sincerely perceiving them at long last. It was clear; there was a tremendous amount of history before me.
Time marches on as our bodies take on various shapes. Steps become less confident, however, our souls are still undeniably present. As I have known throughout life, the laughter, embraces and love of my family remain a constant. Standing there I asked myself, “Where would I be without this richness?
How complete is that woman without Joey?” For me, ThanksGiving Day is not about the ritual of eating turkey, gravy, stuffing and pumpkin pie. It is for the emotional and spiritual nourishment I receive from these enriching people in my life. For this, I give thanks and realize how ful-filled I am.

"Spencer's Story"

         It is considered a long time to be in labor 60 hours. Because of my supposedly advanced age of 36 years, my doctor wanted to continually perform tests, which I declined. I was very healthy, so intuitively I knew much of what my doctor urgently recommended was not necessary. Finally, I chose to forego conventional medicine in favor of a more natural approach to pregnancy and childbirth; therefore, we had a midwife from the time he was three months in the womb, until the date of delivery.
During my pregnancy, everything progressed even better than planned. In addition to avoiding the other so-called “normal” effects of pregnancy, I experienced no vomiting, bloating, leg cramps, swollen ankles, or mood swings. It was a model pregnancy. My husband and I anticipated a home water birth and were relieved at the prospect of avoiding the necessity of medical intervention.
My water broke in the early morning hours. Hundreds of sporadic contractions and 47 hours later, I was transported to the hospital. Spencer, our son, was born by way of cesarean section. After 60 hours of labor, I was relieved to finally have my baby safely cradled in my arms.
We were forewarned sleep would become scarce after the arrival of our new bundle of joy. As it turned out, the warning was all too true. Over the course of the next three weeks, Spencer and I were crying non-stop. Between my tears and anxiety, I lost 30 pounds within this three-week period. I was absolutely certain; I made a grave error in becoming a mother. I felt totally inadequate, believing I did not possess the emotional maturity to be a parent.
As reflected by the size of our telephone charges, for three weeks I sought the advice and counsel of everyone I knew. Sadly, in my mind things were so dreadful; I no longer wanted to live.
Thinking I was breastfeeding incorrectly, I visited a lactation specialist four times. Because the breastfeeding process was incredibly painful for me, I thought I was doing something wrong. We took Spencer to the pediatrician on three separate occasions and each time the doctor wanted to prescribe medication as a solution.
The doctor described Spencer’s condition as “colic.” Telling him I wanted to get to the root of the problem, I became increasingly frustrated with his advice. Shortly thereafter, I located a more holistic pediatrician.
When I bathed Spencer or put him in his car seat, he would scream. He refused to nap during the day. When I put him down for the night, he would immediately wake up screaming again. To soothe and comfort him, I would instantly pick him up, holding him in my arms. Neither of us was getting any rest.
During that period, my midwife came to our home on several occasions in an attempt to assist. She was very comforting, however, Spencer’s crying continued.  All too often, well meaning folks tried to reassure me with phrases such as: “All babies cry,” or “You obviously have not been around babies much,” “Things will calm down in a little while, it just takes time,” or “It will get better.” It was truly one of the most painful periods in my life.           
           My parents lived four hours north. After three months of non-stop crying, I loaded Spencer in the car and drove to their home. I required a break and someone with whom to talk, face to face. I needed to be around somebody constantly at this point. My husband offered all the support he could, however, he worked during the days and traveled out of town on business.
        Before leaving home I called my midwife, letting her know where I would be staying. She said the answers were inside me. I needed to calm down for a few days, relax and start thinking straight. With my mother at my side, I knew this was possible.
One evening, I was attempting to breastfeed Spencer. As usual, he was screaming loudly. I told my mother it seemed as though he had a more difficult time feeding while laying on his right side. My mother stopped chopping vegetables, looked up and asked, “Do you remember the doctor saying Spencer’s head was tilted to the right, turning in an upward direction during labor?” I said, “Mom, I was on so many medications during the delivery, I remember little about the process.”
            At that point in our conversation the telephone rang. It was Bonny, a close friend from the Bay Area, calling to see how I was doing. I told her about the puzzle pieces my mother and I put together. As it turned out, she heard about a similar situation. She said she would get back to me.
       The following day, Bonny called with the name of a Bay Area osteopathic physician. An acquaintance of hers experienced tremendous success with him. I drove Spencer to see him. Healing became evident approximately 45 minutes into our initial consultation. Despite the perspiration dripping from the doctor’s brow, he manipulated Spencer’s head with feathery fingertips. During the first session, Spencer stopped crying and smiled. I cried. Soon thereafter, I located an osteopathic physician closer to our home. His specialty is cranial work for children.
           In conjunction with the treatments by the osteopath, I took Spencer to the energy-balancing center where I studied. Through applied muscle kinesiology, Spencer became harmonized. He is able to function effectively, lovingly and freely in all aspects of his life. Spencer continued to heal and within a brief period became known as the “Happiest, Most Alert Baby.” In a matter of weeks, he was a different child.
I learned to persevere during difficult times, listen to my own instincts and be grateful there are alternative options available. The emotional and physical pain from the 60 hours of labor and first three months after Spencer’s birth is now a faded memory.


         Instantly I regretted the decision I made. Our time together was far too short. I was 11 years old in 1971, living with my family on Star Thistle Ranch in Cottonwood, California. It was a hot summer day when my mother went to the cattle auction, bringing home a one-month-old Black Angus heifer, female calf. My mother told me the calf was mine to care for and raise. I named her ShilohMy mother knew whenever I loved an animal and it responded in kind, I bonded very deeply. Mr. Steak, my pet steer, was slaughtered the year prior and I think my mother was trying to make this up to me.
           I bottle fed Shiloh; brushed her hair and teeth; bathed her; sprayed fly repellent on her and made certain I kept her in sight so I could attend to her. After school I would race off the bus, throw my book bag into my bedroom, change into my Levi’s 501 blue jeans, jump the fence and lay my head down on my precious pet. She would be napping in the pasture. My mother, seeing me lying on Shiloh’s side, would yell from the kitchen window, "Debbie, get off that cow!" I ignored my mother, continuing to tell Shiloh about my day at school. For eighteen months, I shared my most treasured thoughts with only Shiloh.
Ross, my brother, and I were taken to a motorcycle shop in town. Our parents would assist us in purchasing the motorcycles of our choice, paying half. Ross saved his portion for the yellow Kawasaki 100 he discovered; I did not have my portion for the red Kawasaki 90 I selected. My mother told me if Shiloh returned to the auction, she would be sold for the sole purpose of making calves.
My mother assured me since Shiloh was a heifer and not a steer, she would avoid slaughter. I would get the money from the sale and then I could purchase the red motorcycle. The monetary and material gain eventually grew far too enticing to resist. Besides, I believed Shiloh would not be harmed in any way.
The time arrived for Shiloh and I to part ways. The cowboys tried, yet could not get Shiloh to walk the ramp into their auction truck. Knowing Shiloh would follow me anywhere, my mother told me to climb in first. Trusting me, Shiloh walked up the ramp behind me and into the back of the truck. I jumped out and off drove the truck with Shiloh staring back at me. All remaining were two very sad female beings. I stood amidst the dust kicked up by the truck, gazing into Shiloh’s huge brown eyes. I knew we would never forget each other.
          Nearly 30 years later I told Bonny, a close friend, about my time with Shiloh. I let her know if given another opportunity, I would do everything in my power to prevent any harm from coming to Shiloh. Once again, I was heartbroken as I stood in my kitchen, telling Bonny the story. In my mind’s eye, I could still see Shiloh looking back at me as she was leaving.
By now, I acquired several rescued farm animals. In the summer of 2000, my neighbor called to tell me about a Black Angus steer being shown at the county fair. He mentioned the steer, a 4-H project, needed a home or he would be sent to slaughter. Instantly tears filled my eyes, as I knew for certain Shiloh returned - to me. Spencer, my son, and I were en route to the zoo; however, I immediately turned the car around and drove to the fairgrounds. We walked up to his stall. I could hardly believe my eyes - the Grand Champion of Bovines on display for viewing.
            Unfortunately, there was a box for people to deposit tickets on which they were to guess and write down “Stewie’s” weight. The winner would become Stewie’s new owner. The mighty men, small children, women, the elderly, you name it – all walked up, depositing their tickets into the box. The long line at the ticket box was filled with hopeful guessers. Spencer and I went to the other fair attendees in the large barn. I asked their guess on Stewie’s weight. Feeling frantic, I finally put a ticket in the box with a hope and a prayer. I whispered in Shiloh’s ear he would soon be home with us.
A week later, I learned a little girl won the prize steer. My heart sank and I wondered, “How could this be?” I knew this was my Shiloh; it did not seem possible someone else could win. The 10-year-old winner did not realize her prize would soon fill her parent’s freezer with several new white packages. The Peninsula Humane Society called her home, saying they would take Stewie off their hands, rescuing him. The little girl was relieved, turning him over to the Peninsula Humane Society. Soon, I received a telephone call telling me if I wanted to adopt him, he would be mine.
        Shortly thereafter, Shiloh was loaded into a trailer and he was brought home. A very gentle giant, who is actually still a bull, Shiloh LOVES visitors! As I write this story, I look out my office window, watching Shiloh looking back at me with huge brown eyes. Some 30 years of time stands still as I thank GOD for this instant karma – well, almost instant. 

"My Canopy Bed"

          In 1965 Ross, my four-year-old brother, my mother and I spent most weekends in San Francisco with Grammy Lou, my mother’s mother. I was five years old. My mother and father divorced earlier in the year and a beautiful new world awaited us. My mother rented bicycles for us to ride around Golden Gate Park. First, we deposited Grammy Lou on a patch of lawn and then we rode. 
We watched and observed the “hippie” generation. The sights were incredible: long hair woven through with flowers, beaded necklaces, lots of smoke, Frisbee throwing, live music from the park’s center stage and lounging around.
As my eyes took in the sights and sounds of this generation, Ross would trail along behind me, attempting to knock my wheels off course. He knew I was not paying attention to my riding. I could barely keep my training wheels on the sidewalk. These were some of the best times of my life.
After one fun Saturday in the park, we all piled back into my mother’s red Volvo station wagon and headed to Sears on the other side of San Francisco. Grammy Lou needed to purchase a few items and since she did not drive, we took her to do some shopping.
            I was exhausted from the bike ride and the long aisles of Sears seemed endless. Unexpectedly, I spied the most beautiful twin-size canopy bed. Without a word I crawled in, PF Flyer tennis shoes and all, (yes, complete with whistle). Little did I realize, my mother and Grammy Lou flew into a panic when they looked back and saw only Ross. My mother demanded of Ross, “Where’s Debbie?” He shrugged his shoulders.
Frantically, retracing their steps through Sears, they made their way back to the furniture department. There, they discovered me sound asleep in the white canopy bed with pale yellow linens. It was the middle of summer and Christmas was nowhere in sight, however, Grammy Lou thought I looked so perfect in that bed, she bought me an “early Christmas present.”
            This special piece of furniture and my family relocated when my mother remarried in 1967. One year later, we moved several hours north to Star Thistle Ranch. When my mother divorced and married again, the bed was packed up and moved. When I turned 18 and moved to the Hawaiian Islands, my bed was wrapped up and stored in the shop behind our home.
            Some 18 years after my move to Hawaii, I married.  Seven months later, I was pregnant. Believing I would have a girl, my mother and stepfather took my canopy bed out of storage and refinished it. After doing so, they put it in the back of their truck and drove it down to my current home, Lone Pine Ranch.
They wanted my “daughter” to grow up sleeping in the same bed, which served me so well. We put the bed in the barn and awaited the birth of my baby girl.  My mother purchased pale yellow linens for this special bed. As it turned out, I gave birth to a son and the bed remained in the barn, wrapped in blankets. 
Still, I longed for a daughter. I continued to hope “she” would someday sleep in my old bed. My husband and I discussed having another child. As the monthly timing was perfect for me, we agreed to attempt conceiving our second child.
My husband said he would return home from his business trip around 6:00 that evening. We knew we could have one night together, before he departed again the next morning, on a two-week trip to Asia and Australia. As it turns out, he didn’t return home until around midnight.
            The next morning, I awoke to a real life nightmare. I discovered my right breast bled through my nightgown onto the sheets. Horrified, I jumped out of bed, racing to the kitchen to tell my husband. I quickly determined he was already gone. Other than Spencer, my infant son, I was alone.
To make certain my eyes were not playing tricks on me, I rushed into the bathroom and checked in the mirror. I could plainly see the blood coming through the fabric on the right side of my pajamas. I peeked inside my nightgown, discovering my right breast covered in blood. I sat on the bathroom floor, unable to move a muscle.
It was so early in the morning; I did not know whom to call. Finally, I mustered up the courage to telephone my mother. My call woke her. When I told her about my situation, in her usual calm voice, she told me to get out my doctor’s telephone number and call their office as soon as they opened at 9:00 a.m.
            Overcome with terror, I refused to make the call. Four months later, I went for my annual physical examination. When I casually mentioned the bleeding episode to the doctor, he immediately checked my right breast. He left the room and returned five minutes later with an appointment for me to have a mammogram.
During the mammogram, blood again squirted out of my right nipple. The technician stared at me. I stared back at her. Neither of us said a word. I thought my knees would buckle. From there, I was sent to the medical director for the Mammography Center. She performed an ultra-sound. Quietly I got dressed, went to my car and burst into tears.
The 30 minutes I waited for the results was an eternity. The outcome revealed a tumor the size of a walnut.  The medical director was unable to determine if the tumor was benign or malignant therefore, I was given the name of a surgeon to schedule its immediate removal. Once again, I chose not to make the appointment. I was scared to death.
            My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 44. She opted for a radiation implant treatment instead of a mastectomy. She saved her breast and remained cancer-free exactly 20 years. Despite the fact cancer has only a five percent heredity rate, because of my mother’s history; both my doctors and I were understandably alarmed.
I waited more than a year to call the surgeon. Finally, I made an appointment with my physician. After meeting with him he called the surgeon and scheduled my procedure for two days after my 41st birthday.
            I braced myself for the removal of the large tumor. However, on my 41st birthday, I received a call from my stepfather. He admitted my mother to the hospital that morning for liver cancer. Normally, I telephoned my mother daily just to chitchat, now I telephoned her up to eight times a day. When I telephoned her from my hospital room, the discussion centered on concerns for our well-being.
Our conversation went from my hospital bed to her hospital bed. I told her how terrified I was. She said she was certain the tumor was benign and I would be fine. She reminded me, when we face our fears they go away. She passed along her optimistic view in a weakened voice, barely more than a whisper.
            I opted to have my surgery under a local anesthetic. At one point, I felt the surgeon’s knife and alerted him. He asked if I wanted to go under a general anesthetic. I declined a second time, as I feared never waking up. I was freezing cold in the operating room. The nurses brought heavy, heated blankets for me. They piped in music from one of my favorite local radio stations and kept talking with me throughout the procedure.
Once removed, the tumor was taken to biopsy. Within 10 minutes the results were back. My surgeon leaned over me and said, “I don’t know how you did it, but by the grace of GOD, you missed the speeding bullet.”
Fortunately, I was well enough to be at my mother’s side when she died 17 days after my surgery. Regretfully, I am no longer able to telephone her for the comfort and companionship she provided the first 41 years of my life. Even though my mother, my brother and Grammy Lou are no longer a part of my physical world, their love continues.
I am grateful for my son’s angelic presence. It has grown to be more than I ever could have imagined. There is not a doubt in my heart; he is the one to be here with me.
As for my canopy bed, it may not be used for its intended purpose; however, I continue to thank Sears for its public display of affection.