Thursday, September 28, 2017

A year later...

My last post was just over a year ago. In the months that followed, my husband nearly died from a bleeding ulcer caused by steroid enhanced drugs. The CPR I learned 40 years ago served us well that night. Since that emergency surgery, he has improved dramatically. We know that this improvement is probably temporary, but we will take whatever we can get. Stage 4 cancer in the spine is no joke. Living with constant pain changes the way people act and react. We need to be kind to each other because we have  absolutely no idea what people are experiencing day to day. However, pain or not, the Man lives the life he has preached and taught for decades. He is still one of the most patient people I know, one of the most empathetic. That empathy has not always served him well. It leads to internalizing others' pain and striving to fix things... everything and anything, important and trivial. Regardless, it is who he is and that will not change. He's tried; it doesn't work. So we live each day in gratitude for our huge store of earthly blessings, all pretty much centered around two sons, their wives, and seven grandchildren. These gifts are eternal beings and our prayer today is that we will always be united in faith, into eternity. I have absolutely no idea what that looks like, but I believe it will be and for now, that's enough. Honestly, living in the present is taking all I have so concern for the future will have to wait. Each morning I stand in front of our house, I take a deep breath and thank God for His goodness. My word for the year is joy; I don't want to forget that. Life, gratitude, blessing, joy. Now.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


I would do anything; I will do everything possible.

I hate cancer and what it is doing to my husband. I hate that he is in pain, that he is so tired, that even though he is tired he can't sleep well. It is a horrible affliction.

I also hate insurance companies. They don't care about their policy holders. They know that there are great possibilities for remission or cure, but it costs money and these companies are all about making lots and lots of money. Some day they will have to answer for their greed.

I love my husband. I love his patient and steady way of dealing with suffering. I love how he can still make everyone around him smile, even laugh. I love that he tries to hide his pain from me because he wants to protect me. I want him to know that I would share this life we have all over again if given the opportunity. I want to tell him that he has made me wealthier than I ever imagined because I am so well loved. I want to thank him for being such an amazing father, for shaping the lives of two young men who are now great fathers. I want him to stay with me for a very long time - 20 years; I want 20 more years. I want to spare our grandchildren the heartache of saying goodbye too soon. I want him to continue to be the sounding board that our sons appreciate now. I want to serve with him, play with him, just be - be with him - for a very long time.

I don't know what's going to happen. I pray, I beg, I plead, I yield, I submit, I cry and cry when he isn't around. I have to believe, to hope, to trust. I live in the moment to avoid the anxiety of the future. I am hoping that God's plans give us hope and a future - together. I want that.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

A Long and Winding Road

The school year was busy - incredibly busy - and toward the end my husband began to deal with extensive back pain. It got so bad that he finally went to urgent care one Saturday, a day I was out to lunch with house guests. Seriously, it hurt so bad he couldn't go to lunch! What started as suspected arthritis in the lower back turned into metastatic cancer in the middle back. We knew on May 27th that we were in for trouble. There was a mass devouring his vertebrae. Our local health care system ran tests... and more tests... right up to the time we were to go to MD Anderson in Houston for T's last appointment with his cancer surgeon from 2004 and 2011. (How ironic is that!) Because we have incredible confidence in Dr. Esmaeli, we sent her the reports that we had received from our local provider, and she asked us to bring the scans, which we did. She passed them on to experts in the field and after viewing, T was sent to the ER and had surgery the next day. CRAZY! However, we learned that it was the same cancer and therefore, cut and burn was the process. To date there is no chemo treatment for this "exotic" strain. Our hope is to work with the University of Washington medical people and get some answers to target this recurring enemy. Texas has been wonderful but the expense of travel and stay has become too much to continue. Our beloved Dr. E assures us that UW is great and we will find experts who will do the right thing for us. 

Now it's August. June and July seemed to never happen. They were hospital and recovery related, not vacation or relaxation. Our children from France are here with our four grandchildren, bringing us such joy and needed diversion. They are growing too fast!

Luca and his dad, Brian

Our older three: Grace (8), Eliott (5.5), Nora (4)

 I am grateful that we won't start school until after Labor Day this year. That extra week is terribly needed! T will complete radiation on August 12th, and we are told that the fatigue will hit about that time. He is still working as principal of our private high school and putting in nearly full-time hours. We expect he'll need to cut back for a bit as he recovers from radiation but we are hopeful that he can still complete the essentials. Time will tell; we are grateful for each day we have together. Our 43-year marriage has had unexpected bumps in the road, but I wouldn't trade this man of love, grace, and integrity for anyone in the world. We are blessed.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Another year; another class

The Class of 2016 - these are my last students who were once my junior high students. In 2006 my husband and I left the Caribbean for a new assignment in Western Washington. The first year in the Pacific Northwest I subbed in a variety of public schools. The following year a friend asked me to apply to teach junior high English at a local Christian school. I did, got the job, and stayed with it for almost six years. In the middle of that year, my husband (the high school principal) let me know that one of his English teachers was leaving mid-year. I jumped at the chance to get back into high school English. It meant, however, leaving a group of students I had for all of 7th grade and half of 8th. It was a bit sad to leave mid-year, but I helped promote and hire my replacement and she was (and still is) amazing at the job. I walked into classes of students who had previously been in my junior high English classes, so my investment has been intense. This year's seniors is the last class with whom I really feel connected. When I started teaching at the high school and this class became 9th graders, they asked if I would stay until they graduated. I promised I would. I have; I will. They graduate in four months. After that, I may still be here and I may not. I will have kept my promise. I feel the itch to move on, a dangerous thing that itch. I've tried to figure it out. It seems that I'm ready for change every five to seven years. It's hard work to change, adapt to new surroundings, new expectations, and yet - it's quite exciting too. If I stay, I will have great students to challenge. If I go - I have no idea. Guess we'll see what happens.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Stress and then some...

We had a crazy week last week - some really tough situations at school that took non-stop days of my principal husband's time and energy. It was extremely draining. By Friday, things appeared to have settled down, and we were prepared to love our weekend. We own a 24 foot camping trailer that allows us to get away to the beach or the mountains for several days at a time. Having skipped camping all summer (it was SO hot) we were eager for our weekend on the Pacific. We packed and headed out by early evening ready to enjoy a stress-free weekend.
A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the beach; we blew a tire. So scary! We pulled over and with the help of a wonderful state patrolman, got it changed - and went home. The same thing happened last year, so we decided that we were not going out without a spare. Saturday I cleaned house like a crazy woman, and T got several quotes on repairs. It's amazing the damage a flapping tire can cause to the undercarriage of a camper! Toward the end of the day he remembered that we had insurance and started researching that possibility. With a few phone calls today, he verified that our insurance would pay for the repairs! We just saved a bunch of moola! So maybe we will try it again - after it's fixed and has four new tires!

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Stress Relief or Seeing the Results of Hard Work

My mother was a master gardener and I think I understand her obsession. We do so much work without seeing any positive results but that is not true about the garden, as our before and after will attest. The Emerson quote that people don't really think belongs to Emerson says it best: To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

I'll go with the healthy child and the garden patch for now.

Yes, quite a messy hillside, but it had potential. My husband had the vision and now it looks like this:

Switch-back trails, flagstone walk, weeded, barked, our place of refuge and peace. I think we'll keep gardening.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

En Gedi

This has been a very trying school year. It's not students; they're great. It's not teachers; they're gifted. It's time. We have spent nearly every weekend tied into school stuff. That means no relaxation, no getting away and doing things that give us perspective and rest.

This weekend we left the rat race and hid in a log cabin near Mount Rainier. Actually, my man was supposed to work all weekend at a Spring Fair that really does nothing for the high school, but because he's part of the administrative team, he's expected to be there. Not only was this his birthday weekend, but it was also and will forevermore be, the anniversary of my mother's death. I did not want to be in town. I needed to leave, to do something that would get the image of her sitting on her kitchen floor out of my head. When the man told me about the SF and that we probably couldn't get away, tears welled up and I just had to leave his office. I told him I'd be fine; I'd get over it. But I would not have been fine. He immediately started working toward our weekend away and made it happen. We went to a friend's log cabin, circa 1910 or so, and read and read and read. We hiked some, cooked very little (I precooked everything and the cabin has a micro!), and slept - early to bed, late to rise. It was amazing!

Today is Sunday and missing church is a big deal for the man. So we didn't; we watched a DVD from Ray Vanderlan on Living Water - En Gedi. It just so happens that the cabin is right next to a lively creek; it was a perfect comparison to what we were experiencing. We know we can't stay at En Gedi - oh how I wish we could - but this last weekend, four days, three nights, - was beyond refreshing. It was so perfect. I am so grateful!