Between almost awake and half asleep, my brain registers discomfort. Oh no! An earache! I had so many earaches as a kid and hate ‘em. Just hate ‘em!
The throbbing’s the worst. Each heartbeat bangs on the ear drum. No matter how you twist or turn, you literally feel, and hear, every beat of the heart. Like a marching band, the regular beat on the drum creates a disconcerting percussion concert.
It’s fingernails down the blackboard!
I try to go back to sleep, but things on the “to do” list start cluttering the mind. Too tired to get up, too conscious to sleep, several hours of nothingness tick away in the dark with only my thoughts and the striking of the ear drum with each beat of the heart.
In a way, it’s fascinating. The never seen heart constantly pumps life in rhythm. The body, soul and spirit, it rises, and falls, in a life dance with the ever present heartbeat on the ear drum. Continue reading A Heartbeat Away
The last thing I wanted was a diversion. It’d been a long day.
Sure enough, diversion.
As I drove out, he was walking the opposite direction into a cold, 20 mph wind with light drizzling rain.
“Stop. Turn around and give him a ride” was the quiet, still message inside.
My internal response was, “Aww man!”
A quarter mile down the road, I felt bad, so a U-turn and a quarter mile back, I pulled up beside the tall, slender man.
He was probably 55 to 60 years old, carrying a plastic grocery bag in each hand. His clothes were old and worn, but clean and well cared for.
His head was ducked down, leaning into the frigid wind, and his arms remained close to his sides to try to stay warm while carrying milk in one bag and can goods in the other.
He looked up with a tired, worn expression, but when I asked through my truck window if he wanted a ride, his eyes lit up instantly. Continue reading A Little Favor
She was out of place at the convenience store Subway. I saw her sit down at a tall bar stool table inside.
She wasn’t eating, but had a small Styrofoam cup of coffee that she wasn’t drinking.
Her silver blue hair was perfect, in every way, and she was wearing her Sunday best dress complete with a little pearl necklace and old fashioned black, block heel dress shoes.
She was tall and slender, and her glasses seemed to be part of her face, like they’d been there for years. Continue reading Déjà Vu
“Daddy, they called! They have a heart!!”
(Read Part 1 here)
A new heart! Renewed hope!! A chance for Shelby to live a full life!! It’s exactly what we hoped and prayed for!
But wait! Wait…
For one to live, someone doesn’t.
Somewhere, a family’s tears flow. Someplace, loved ones grieve. Somebody is hurting, mourning a tragic loss.
Their hope, it’s gone.
Yet, in the deepest of deep grief, they share. They share life through their loss.
To someone else, some unknown person to them … to Shelby … they pass along a heart, the very beat of life. Continue reading HEART OF HOPE (2) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story
Phone rings. 3:42 AM. Never a good call at that time.
I listen, shocked. Adrenaline rushes. My fingers tremble on my shirt buttons.
Twelve minutes later in the ER, several people explain that Shelby, my 20 year old daughter, has an enlarged heart that’s only working at 15% capacity.
I can’t get to her. People everywhere, beside her, in the way. I can’t reach her, and she’s slipping away.
It’s almost ten minutes before I can bend over to see her in the bed, pale. So pale. Shallow breathing. Hands and fingers, blue and cold.
I speak softly, fully understanding I may not ever get to again. “Hey Sweetheart.”
Her eyelids flutter before opening her blue eyes that are there, but slipping.
I see the recognition as she whispers, “Daddy, I don’t want to die.” Continue reading HEART OF HOPE (1) – My Daughter’s Transplant Story
The tenth grandchild is coming in October! Can’t wait! Grandkids are great!
Last year I built a swing set for the grandkids, then a fire truck (you can read that here).
The boys had something, but JJ, daughters, daughter-in-laws, and even granddaughters said they wanted something for the girls, specifically, a playhouse.
I drew up plans for a little 10’ x 10’ playhouse, bought the materials and started work.
It’s insulated, with lights, porch lights and a plug for a heater or fan powered by an extension cord.
Like everything that comes from your hands though, I know where I messed up. I see my mistakes, things others, besides building professionals, may miss.
But I see them.
I shake it off. Remind myself that the goal isn’t perfection, even if I want it. Demanding perfection, whether in a playhouse or a child’s life and behavior, destroys the goal. Continue reading Playhouse to Lighthouse
Three months ago. Saturday. 8:04 AM. Work rings. Never good. Answer phone.
“Dee’s mom called. His wife is a nurse and woke up and heard him gurgling. She called 9-1-1 and started CPR. They don’t know how long he was without oxygen. He’s at the ER now, but non-responsive.”
My heart sunk. We’d worked together 23 years. Dee’s a quality guy. I knew then I’d never see him again, not the same. At minimal, brain damage from oxygen deprivation would forever change him.
~~Something awakened Dee’s wife, Alanda, at 6:15 AM. She heard Dee gurgling from fluid filling his lungs. She flipped on the light, called 9-1-1 and started CPR.
Alanda saved Dee’s life. He’d crossed death’s doorway, but at the threshold, Alanda grabbed the tip of his little toe toenail and began pulling him back.
Five minutes later paramedics arrived. They took over CPR and used an AED.
One electrical shock to the heart. Two. Continue reading You Come From Good Stock
I saw a co-worker and his wife in a social setting. The man turned to his wife, “Tell Jeff the story you told me.”
Her face lit up as if she remembered something important. She began a story from the high school cafeteria where my kids went.
She told me about a young man who doesn’t “fit in”. She said the student being picked on wasn’t popular, struggles in school, and in all reality, is not very socially skilled. By all accounts, he’s a little odd. Add it up, and he’s an easy target.
The young man’s primary defense mechanism is to blend in like a social chameleon, then avoid others. That’s impossible during school days when he would unwilling become the center of attention. He’d shrink alone, virtually defenseless, and silently absorb any words, jokes or laughter directed his way. Continue reading The Other Table
One of the most consistent things in life is that it changes.
Change constantly swirls around the atmosphere of life in the spiritual, emotional and physical spheres.
Change allows sunshine, and rain, to fall below.
It’s not all bad, not all good.
It is, however, inevitable.
Yet change, maybe just for me, is usually difficult and often seems unkind, unremitting. Continue reading Life Changes
In college I worked one summer at a funeral home. Morbid? Maybe, but I wanted to be around the death process to understand, not fear it.
Sometimes though things, places, events — they change you, change the way you think, change the way you see and feel life. That summer changed me, one night in particular.
I had two jobs that college summer. As soon as I finished my maintenance job, I’d shower, put on my suit and rush to the 2nd job at the funeral home.
It was a visitation that night, just one body, with few visitors expected. The funeral home owner told me he and his family were leaving town for a short trip, threw me the keys and told me to lock up after everyone left that night.
No one was there, so I went into the state room and was shocked to see the tiny casket. Inside was a beautiful, eight month old baby girl. Continue reading Brahm’s Lullaby