Thursday, January 29, 2015


It happened on his 21st birthday-- that's what his sister told me.  On his way home after a  night of  hard partying he hit a concrete post head on-- never to walk again.

I will always remember the first time I met him--- lying on his bed, legs contorted and rail thin, fingers wrapped around a cigarette,  angry look on his face.

"You can sit there"

Not a bad looking, kid-- he was 23 years old by that time, had spent a few years in a rehab hospital.  Curly brown hair,  muscular but slender build, rugged appearance.

The first month was awful.  He lay there with his face to the wall not wanting to talk as I bandaged his leg every day.

NASCAR was his favorite, a big Dale Earnhardt fan to the core.  He was a guys' guy--- and guys' guys don't show any emotion or pain.

Winter, Spring, half a year went by.  He was healing well physically but couldn't seem to face his new "life".

Coming into his house one day, I bumped into the nurse's aide--she was crying

"What's wrong?  What happened?"

"He says he hates Summer worst of all because everyone is out having fun and he is stuck  here. I think he is giving up".

So she was feeling it too.   The deep sadness and feeling of helplessness I had been experiencing.  We were grieving with him.

And she was right.  I had noticed it.  He seemed to be sinking further and further away, isolating himself from family and friends.

One day, while changing his bandage, I noticed it-- small circles in the shape of burn marks-- on his stomach.

"What is this?"  Instinctively I knew what it was---something desperate, self inflicted, a way to ease the hurting inside and make it come out.

"What do you mean?'

He didn't have me fooled.  "I don't ever want to see anything like this again and I mean it!"

"You can ask my mom, I bumped myself".  But his protests were half-hearted and we both knew.

More time went by.  Someone had to get through to him

"*Jeremy, don't you see-- if you give up what are we supposed to do?  All the people who care about you--- your mom, sisters, friends, me and Joan".

I guess he thought about it for a while because over the next few months he started to slowly come alive-- talking a little more, asking friends over, working on an old pickup truck he bought.  He got a used four wheeler from somewhere and would go riding for  hours and hours loving the feeling of freedom.  It was almost visible,   his sheer strength and determination, willing himself out of that dark hole.  Eventually he started to go out with friends again --to festivals, playing cards, meeting girls!

One afternoon, my phone rang

"Hey, it's Jeremy.  Well, me and some girl are going out today so I won't be home for our appointment"

I wasn't surprised really.  He had made the decision to live again and nothing was going to stop him.

Another time--

"What happened to you?"  with small bruises and scrapes on his face and hands he must have fallen off of his four wheeler.

"Oh, I got in a bar fight"

You got in a bar fight.  "You got in a bar fight?"  I didn't know whether to lecture him or give him a high five?!  But he was fine.  In fact, I think he was secretly proud of those bumps and bruises.

Time went by.  He got a new truck and rigged it up so he could drive anywhere.  He started doing things he once loved   --  fishing in summer,  snowmobiling, going to auto races.  Before long, he no longer needed my services.

Last I heard of him, he had a nice apartment in a nearby town, and was living with a friend, running around-- back to his old feisty self.

Strength, CouragePerseverence in Adversity, that's what heroes are made of

Sometimes we find HEROES in the most unusual places

*Any names and confidential information has been altered to protect privacy

Monday, January 26, 2015


I see you across the room but you don't notice me, not yet.

We've only met twice before and yet I feel this strong connection.

Finally I get to hold you in my arms.  We have a nice talk, you and I. 

Well, I do most of the talking.  You listen patiently, all the while our eyes locked together.  We discuss those important things like what we will see, do,  where we will go in the future.

I love it when you laugh out loud at my silliness and wait expectantly for more.

I hope you realize my arms will always be there to hold you when you fall,  and provide a shelter against life's storms.

We have a bright future together, you and I-- you see, because we will always be part of each other.


For all  of my grandchildren, Jackson, Finn, Evelyn and Andrew*

*Emily Dickinson

Thursday, January 22, 2015


I can still remember her laugh.  She had a great sense of humor. 

It's not too often  you meet someone like her,   completely genuine, not a pretentious bone in her body, kind-hearted and generous to a fault-- almost childlike. 

She was the oldest, more than ten years older than me,  and strikingly pretty.   I saw a picture of her once, she was around 18 years old---  eyes green more than hazel, clear ivory skin, a spatter of freckles across her high cheekbones.

I must have been about 19 when it first happened.  The first time we had to institutionalize her.  The police had found her wandering the streets of a nearby city



   not making any sense.

 "Ok, sign here,"  the clerk barely looked up from the admission papers.  Sure, no problem.  I will sign my sister in to this scary place where she wouldn't know a soul.  I wIll leave her here where she might be frightened and mistreated behind locked doors.

 But there was no other way.  Out of touch with reality she had left her two young sons alone in their small apartment for who knows how long.

Over the years she was in and out of facilities at least a dozen times.  The siblings would take turns picking her up and settling her in, helping her financially, keeping track of her.

Sometimes I grew frustrated with her.

"..... and if you would just stay on your medication you wouldn't have all these problems.  Think what your boys are going through".   She shot something back at me about minding my own business. Ouch!  I guess I deserved it.  But hey,  she still had a little spunk left-- good for her!

The ups and downs went on for years, in and out of the hospital,  sometimes within months, other times a few years would go by before she had another episode.

The last five years of her life she seemed better.....a nice apartment, friends, hobbies she enjoyed.

One time we made a deal.  She would buy my car for a very reasonable price and I could use the funds for a down payment on a new vehicle-- a win-win for both of us.

 But first I had to teach her to drive it-- a stick shift.

"Ok, pretty good," my neck aching from the jerking motion and my stomach heaving, "let's practice again next week".  We must have spent 40 hours overall  practicing in a local parking lot before she was finally ready to buy it.    

A few months later.   "You did what?"

"I sold it and made a few thousand extra"


Another time she came into a modest sum of money.  Oh good, now she can finally buy some nice things for herself.               She ended up giving most of it away or lent it to friends who needed it. 

Then, it came out of nowhere....

"It's cancer and it's in the bone"

It didn't look good and it was progressing quickly

It was one day on the way to her doctor appointment, "Turn it up will you?  I love this song"

 *"Diamond Girl,
   You sure do shine,
   Glad I found you,
   Glad you're mine" 

came streaming over the radio. 

I never knew what it meant until then but it suddenly hit me:

The last shall be first and the first shall be last.

The LAST , the LAST shall be FIRST, and the FIRST shall be last.

 Towards the end she asked me, "Do you think it was the psychiatric meds that caused it? the cancer?"

"I don't know but you needed them.  I guess you didn't have a choice."  

Several months after she passed I saw her in a dream one night

"Christy!!! What are you doing here?"  I ran to hug her.   The glow emanating from her body was blinding.  She didn't say a word but beckoned me closer.  I looked through her eye and saw the cosmos    mountains, oceans, stars, -----eternity.

I knew she was ok


I think about her often    and how much I learned from her about courage, dignity and humbleness.

Rest in peace, DIAMOND GIRL, rest easy  
                                   THE BATTLE IS OVER AND YOU HAVE WON

*Seals and Crofts, 1973

**How Stuff Works, Natural History Museum, online website

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Angel.  Her name was Angel.

Somebody once loved her enough to call her that sweetest of all names.  Cherished her enough to wrap her in a soft blanket and tuck her in at night.  Combed her hair just right before she left for school.

But what was behind that far away look in her eyes?

She rarely came to class and when she did, sat in the back row dressed in baggy clothes looking lost.

Still   there was no hiding the beautiful coppered colored skin under the light pink scars on her face, the classic nose and almond shaped eyes.  She reminded me of a delicate fawn I surprised one night in the back yard-- vulnerable, skittish, wary ---yet somehow regal.

When she did come the other students didn't seem to notice she was there, sitting by herself in the corner.

What happened to cause that vacant, hollow expression?  Who sucked all the life out of you and left you this ghost of a person?

I secretly worried about her on the days she was absent.  Crazy right? to worry about someone I barely knew.

But wait a minute, this girl was smart!  She was getting some of the highest grades in the class. 

One day I couldn't help myself.

"Um Angel, can I see you after class?"  She didn't look up, just nodded her head.  "So I notice you are absent a lot.  Is something going on?"

That sad blank stare

"No, I just had car trouble.  I will try to do better"

The same thing went on for weeks.  Finally I couldn't stand it.  I approached her again. 

"...........and Angel do you want to prove them right? the ones who say you'll never make it or you don't have what it takes.  Do you really want them to win?  You have to finish school -- that's the only way things will change for you"

Whoa, maybe I went too far.   Was it really any of my business anyway?

I didn't see her again until finals week.  She got one of the top 3 scores in the class.

I ran into her a few months later in the hall.  

"Hi, Angel!"  

Wow, I thought she had quit.  Hmmm her hair looks really nice and her scrubs are kinda cute.

I will never forget the last time I saw her-- starched white uniform with sheer hose to match.  A crisp nurse's cap set perfectly on her head.

Was that a flash of light I caught in her eye as I clipped her graduation pin on?

I heard someone from the audience yell, "GO ANGEL!!!"

Yeah, go Angel.   Go.    Spread your wings and fly

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


It's ironic really.

The one person who could pick up every nuance and shade of purple in a morning glory, marvel at the fiery red in a sunset and get excited over the soft shell pink color of my prom dress,  could no longer see.

Oh yeah she had her bouts of darkness over the years where she slipped away and noone could reach her-- but it had nothing to do with her eyes.  Who wouldn't?  with ten kids to raise in a 3 bedroom house.  The constant cooking, cleaning, forgetting herself.  But no, this was different.

"Their dresses are mint green, salmon colored and a pale light blue",  I explain as we watch an episode of Lawrence Welk.  "Oh, and their shoes match perfectly".

"Are they short dresses or ball gowns?"

"Oh they're short, fluffy and really pretty"

I cut her food into bite size pieces

"What are the men wearing?"

"They have suits to match the color of the dresses and it's a spring background --lots of bright colored flowers and Easter baskets"

She once told me her favorite color was a light purple bluish pink like the color of lilacs.  Hmmm just so happens that's my favorite color too.

Is it better to once have seen and then lose sight or never have seen at all?  I asked her that one day.

"Well, I'd rather not have it happen at all".  Always practical --that one.  "But at least I can still picture them in my mind"

How does she do that?  How does she just accept any situation and move on??

"You should've seen the snow this morning, Mom, it looked like glitter blowing outside my window onto the bird feeders. And the prettiest red cardinal came up--- the color was so bright against the white background."

They say we become our Mothers.

Yes I guess we do become our mothers.  Not such a bad thing after all.

So I will notice for you....

     the glints of gold in my granddaughter's hair

     the smooth ebony colored skin and kind eyes of the nurse's aide who helps you get dressed
     the pink hues of a sunset on the way home from work tonight

     the touching look of a new mom and dad gazing at their baby

Yes I will pay attention to the gift you have given me.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Strange Title

Hello and welcome to my blog.

It's a strange title I know.  I will explain more about that later---and no --- it has nothing to do with dieting or weight control 😉.

I would love to have you join me on this journey called "life".

In this space, I hope to share some thoughts, inspirations, observations and moments that have touched me in day to day encounters with people I have met.

So many poignant encounters run through my mind that  I wish to share in hopes that they will inspire you as much as they have  inspired  me and opened my eyes to the true beauty in the world and people around us.

More about me and how I meet these people next time.

So we began.......