Thursday, February 28, 2008

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home.

It didn't take Aunty Em or clicking red shoes to get Mom home, but it did take some effort. Dad said getting her INTO the car was a challenge. She had to back into the back seat, with her leg resting on the seat. Once they got home she did better. She was asleep when I called this afternoon, but awake tonight.

Dad told me about several different people who were supposed to come by. I know a nurse went by the house. I think he said a PT went there, too. As of 9 p.m. the machine that moves her knee had not arrived. He called and they said they were waiting til morning. Dad told them, "No, you are supposed to bring it TONIGHT." Hopefully they got there.

We didn't go over there because I started running a low grade fever again today. I really don't like having autoimmune disorders. Natalie also woke up with a nasty sounding cough. She did better once she had some medicine, but with the two of us not feeling up to par, I didn't want to infect Mom. Ruth also sent an e-mail that she started running fever & also felt sick to her stomach, so she didn't make it here for the Spurs game & won't come for the weekend. Hopefully we'll all get over this quickly!

I am VERY slowly starting to step back into my business. As a director for the Pampered Chef, I have minimum requirements to make each month, both for my own sales and my whole group's sales. That means I need to do some Pampered Chef shows! Also, it means I help hold a meeting once a month and keep in touch with my team. It's not a LOT to do, but during times like this, I don't even do the minimums. I've had friends both here and even out of state who have been SO good to me and held shows to keep me going during these past few months, so I could stay at least active as a director.

The reason all this talk of Pampered Chef is on my mind is because I was working on taxes today. For the 18 years that we've been married, we've only had ONE time we had to pay taxes. It was the year I took out my Teacher Retirement Fund (year 1991, but paid in 1992, the same year I ended up in the hospital with a kidney stone & no insurance, and lost both of Phil's grandmothers--late Dec. 91 & April 92; not good years for us!). As I was working on taxes, before I had listed any of my business expenses, we owed over $1200! As I entered the information I had in my hands (expenses listed in my Pampered Chef program and mileage), it dropped to $800. When I entered estimates of a few other expenses, it dropped to $200. I was not good about putting my receipts away immediately last year, so I have some digging to do. While I was not happy that we have to pay, I was SO glad to have expenses to deduct. I know that NOW there are some expenses public school teachers can deduct, but in my days in the classroom, that wasn't so. I also know that I would not get to deduct gas mileage if I had a "regular" job. I won't say "real" job because, as I once heard someone say, the IRS considers this a REAL JOB!

Now my full-time job is calling me. I have one child who thinks she is an owl, and her mother happens to think the same, so she is still awake. Not for long! Good night!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

No Pain, No Gain???

Mom did much better today. She was awake & did her Physical Therapy. By the time we got there in the afternoon, though, she was tired & her pain "ball" (a ball full of anesthetic to numb the leg) had run out. She had taken some pain meds, but was hurting more than she has before.

If all goes well, she will go home tomorrow afternoon. Dad will let me know if he wants me to go with him to the house to help with anything tomorrow. Friday, Ruth (Phil's mom) may go stay overnight to help out. Now, how many of you have a mother-in-law who offers to help your mother? This is the norm for our families so we forget that not all families interact so much with their kids' inlaws (or, as Dad would say, outlaws).

We will go for the next 2 Wednesdays to stay overnight as Dad has appointments on Thursdays. By then Mom may be ASKING for Dad to go play golf! Ha, ha!

For those of you who have been praying for us, would you please pray for the Kiser family? My niece's grandmother-in-law is in her last hours, if she has not already gone to be with the Lord. This will be a difficult time for her husband of over 60 years, as well as the rest of the family. Chris, Becky's husband, has not lost anyone in the family like this, so please pray for him and his twin brother. Thank you.

More tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mom started Physical Therapy

We went to see Mom today & she was awake. Well, mainly awake. She had physical therapy earlier today. Dad and Greg (my brother) said she fell asleep between exercises! I think she must have a low tolerance to pain meds. She had a machine on her leg today that makes it bend at a certain angle. Today it got up to a 50 degree bend. The max is 120 degrees. It's on for 6 hours a day now. She'll go home with that. Not sure if she'll use it for 6 hours each time at home or not. She got to eat real food, too! It looked quite delicious, unlike what I expected to see.

With my dad, brother & I all together, the male nurse that was in there laughed at how "supportive" we were. He was discussing her going home & asked if she'd be going home in a non-emergency medical transport or if Dad would take her home. I said, "You can just slide her into the back of the pick-up." Greg said they could get a ramp & just roll her up into there. Dad started talking about the moving trucks from his years as a moving company manager. The nurse laughed & said, "What supportive family you have. They might as well bring in Hannibal Lecter." (If you are like me, and haven't seen Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter is a really bad dude in the movie; apparently his eating habits rhymed with his name.)

We went to Chick-Fil-A with Dad & Greg after the hospital. Mom, Greg, the girls & I ate there last year when Dad was in the hospital. I asked who was going into the hospital next year so we could eat at Chick-Fil-A again. Though, I really hope maybe next year we can ALL eat together!

Today was a long day for us with homeschool co-op then the later activities. Hoping for a good night's rest for all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Surgery went well and it is HOT here!

Mom went into surgery about 11:30. She was in a room before 3. She's groggy, but coherent. She said several times, "I just want to sleep," and once said, "I'm sorry I keep falling asleep." I laughed & told her she is SUPPOSED to sleep! She has a morphine button. The nurse started her off with a small dose, then is able to self medicate when needed. The nurse said the anesthesia should wear off by tonight but the morphine could still make her sleepy. If all goes well, she could go home by Thursday.

Last year in January while Dad was in the hospital, we had an ice storm. 13 months later we are melting! The temp is at 88.7 and climbing as I type at 4 p.m. Thank the Lord for air conditioning!

Mom is at Northeast Baptist Hospital. The main number to there is (210) 297-2000 and she is in room 60 A. Dad has his cell phone, also, if you want to call him.

Thanks for praying. I'll update as the week goes on.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

My 9 year old "Mom" and my MOM

Phil was gone this weekend. Natalie spent the night with a friend. Bethany almost did, but changed her mind at the last minute. When I took Natalie's overnight bag to her, I told her I was going to have a party of 1 at my house. She looked at me seriously & said, "Mommy, lock the door." Yes, my 9 year old is playing Mom already.

My REAL mom goes into the hospital at 6 a.m. She'll be at Northeast Baptist Hospital (where Dad was last year). I will update when she is out of surgery. Thanks for prayers!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The service was really nice today. It was very short, but very nice. Ft. Sam Houston is a very old Military Post. Here is a snippet from the official Ft. Sam website:

The U.S. Army has maintained a presence in the Alamo City since 1845. During that time, the installation has performed five distinct and important roles: that of a headquarters, logistical base, mobilization and training site, garrison and provider of medical support.

At first, the Army leased facilities in the City of San Antonio, including the Alamo. In fact, the Army repaired the Alamo structure and added a roof so it could be used as a headquarters.

In 1876, the Army began to move its facilities to the present site of Fort Sam Houston upon completion of the Quadrangle. The post has since increased in size from the original 92 acres donated to the Army by the city, to approximately 3,000 acres today.

(Note: This blurb is for you detail people; you know who you are, the type that stop to read every historical marker. Dad, you can skip this & just let Mom read it). As we waited for the service to begin, I showed the girls some of the grave markers. Unlike a civilian cemetery with a variety of grave markers, this cemetery (and I guess all US Military cemeteries) have very neat rows of white grave markers (tombstones). I don't know about other military cemeteries, but at Ft. Sam, when a soldier is buried, his wife (or now with more women, I guess her husband) can be buried in the same spot. They dig a very deep hole for the first grave, then put the 2nd casket on top when the time comes. As we looked at the dates, it was fascinating to see that some of the people in the area where we were had been born in the 1800's! The very first one I saw was a man who died on March 7, 1965. The reason the date stood out is that was 8 days before I was born. On another marker, the man's wife lived over 40 years after her husband died.

Back to our service. I can't remember which came first, the flag folding or the 21 gun salute (if you've never been to a military funeral, it's 7 guns shot 3 times each). Bethany pointed out that the men with the guns looked "really old." I think they were retired military. We had been told there could be no gun salute during wartime. Apparently, that was not true. The funeral home told us that, not Ft. Sam, so I guess they had the wrong info. Bethany was prepared & covered her ears. After the first round of fire, I covered my ears! Later she said, "I could FEEL it when they shot." Phil, on the other hand said, "That was COOL! That was some serious ammunition they used in those guns!" Then they played Taps. That made me teary. When they folded the flag, then presented it, the man spoke directly to Ruth, and even though he does this time and again daily, he was so sincere as he spoke the words. They have chosen the right man for this job. I don't know if he is a pastor/chaplain, but he did have on a ring with a cross on one hand and I think the pastor of Ruth's church who was there had the same ring on.

Ruth's pastor read the service from a well worn book he had. It was mainly a reading of God's Word pertaining to our new life in Heaven if we have trusted in Christ as our Savior. Death is not final, but the beginning of a perfect life.

After they closed the service, we looked over & saw a black wagon across the cemetery with black horses, then more black horses behind it. The girls & I walked to the man who conducted the military part & asked what the horses did & if that would carry the casket. He looked at the GIRLS and spoke to THEM as he explained it in a way THEY could understand. I thought that was very kind that he addressed them. He said they have 4 horses and 3 riders. He said on the 4th horse, they put a pair of boots on backwards. He said it is like the person "who the service is for" (he didn't use the word died, I noticed, which was interesting) is invisible. He explained that this person was a general, an important man in the army (I know all are important in the army, but for them that was the best explanation), and this was like he was leading his troops for the last time with the boots facing towards them. I asked if the horses were part of the army & he said, "Yes. And they probably live better than you & I do!" LOL!

A little special thing God did was to send birds to sing through the service. Ruth loves birds & Bill had hung at least 30 birdhouses in their backyard. As long as he was able, he would put birdfeed out & in the spring/summer feed the hummingbirds. How fitting that the birds would sing so sweetly. It wasn't the annoying "Caw-caw" but really pretty bird songs. The military man who conducted this service told us that he thought about mentioning the birds singing, but didn't know our family, so didn't want to say something inappropriate. He said he learns a lot about the person who has passed away by the way the family and friends are. He said some are very somber, and he thinks the person must have been a very serious person. Then others have grandkids running around and no one is fussing at them to be still, and he thinks this must have been a grandmother or grandfather who loved having children around.

After the service we enjoyed a nice lunch at Kim Tran, a Vietnamese restaurant. When Phil & I were dating, he introduced me to Vietnamese Cuisine. Though, he only introduced me to one dish and we just stick with it: Chicken Lemon Grass with rice and spring rolls. This is a real treat for me because the Vietnamese cooking doesn't use soy sauce (which is typically made of wheat) or egg roll wrappers (also made of wheat), but instead uses fish sauce and rice paper wrappers.

Ruth and Natalie went with me to Hobby Lobby. We found that the flag display boxes were on sale for 50% off! What perfect timing. I would like to have a small piece of brass embossed to put on the flag case. Phil took Ruth home. The girls & I will be delivering Girl Scout Cookies tomorrow and CLEANING. This poor house is just a disaster. I don't know that it can ever be completely organized with all of our stuff, but we will attempt to put a dent in the mess. I think getting the Christmas things into the garage might be a good start!

This is a very long post. Sorry for being so lengthy, but there was so much to tell about today.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What time of year is it?

Here's a riddle. The kids put on swimsuits and shorts. They go outside and squirt each other with the water hose til they are drenched. What time of year is it?

It's February of course! Doesn't everyone go outside to play in the water this time of year? Only if you live in South-Central Texas, Florida or Arizona, I'm sure. That's what my kids did today.

Last night after co-op, the girls had a Girl Scout Sleepover. Since our troop is through our homeschool co-op, we have girls from different areas in the city. This year, it turns out that 4 of the girls live near our co-op and 4 of them live on our side of town (our 2 included). I did the A.M. pick-up. We stopped to drop off the first girl, and ended up staying for a couple of hours while the girls played "Capture the Flag" in the backyard & my friend & I just sat & relaxed on the couch. Then we brought the other friend home with us to play. Schoolwork as in books did not happen today. But, creative juices have been flowing. The girls piled all the blankets in the house in their room then jumped onto them. Then they filled huge plastic storage boxes with soft squooshy stuff and used those as their "beds," followed finally by putting on make-up for fun. Surely some sort of learning took place in there. Tomorrow it is back to the books. Actually tonight, as we'll read before bed. Botany for Bethany!

The girls made some really cute projects at the sleepover. When I get pictures taken & uploaded I'll share them.

Hoping for a good night's sleep tonight!

Burial on Friday

The burial for Bill's ashes will be this Friday at Ft. Sam Houston Cemetery here in San Antonio. It is a huge military cemetery with very pretty grounds. Though, I've never been there at a time when I wanted to or had time to really look around. Only for burials. Please pray as we close this next door of the grieving process. Thank you.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Fat Cat Bit Nat. Bad Cat!

That title sounds surprisingly similar to my friend Stephanie's blog about her oldest child learning to read. However, this was a life lesson rather than reading. And, the cat isn't really fat, but it sounded better that way.

We were outside at some friends' house when the neighbor's cat walked over. The cat is very friendly and BOLD. Bethany petted the cat, another child petted the cat, the cat wanted me to pet him, but being allergic & not a cat lover, I didn't do it. I'd stepped away from the girls when one of them asked, "Natalie, are you okay?" We walked over & she was crying & holding her arm. This very friendly (I seriously have never seen a cat want to be with people as much as this cat does) cat BIT her! We cleaned it then I took her home & called Call-A-Nurse, just to be sure there was nothing special to do. They took my info & had a nurse call me back.
Nurse: Is this your info blah, blah, blah
Me: Yes
N: Is there any bleeding?
Me: There wasn't, but when we took the bandaid off there is some there.
N: Cat bites can be very bad. They have a lot of bacteria in their mouths. She needs to be seen tonight.
Me: It is swollen a little, too. Is that normal?
N: Has the cat had shots? You need to take her to be seen.
Me (still processing this): Okay. We are quite familiar with the E.R.
N: What hospital do you use?

blah, blah, blah

A few minutes later Natalie & I are in the van heading to North Central Baptist ER, our 2nd home.

The receptionist talked to us about how bad cat bites can be. The first nurse washed her "wounds" thoroughly. The doctor talked about how bad cat bites can be. She put more antiseptic on it and then did a flush of saline over it. She gave us a prescription for augmentin (an antibiotic that makes me sick as a dog, but Phil can handle, so hoping Natalie can). The dismissal nurse told us how bad cat bites were. I honestly had never HEARD of a cat biting a person. Scratching, yes, but not biting. Oh, the doctor said you CAN get cat scratch fever (not the old song from the 70's!) from a cat bite. The nurse also mentioned this. A friend had just told me that a mutual friend's husband, who is a vet, is learning more about cat scratch fever now.

We still don't know what set off the cat. Natalie wasn't trying to pick it up, but just pet it. She must have hit a spot, or somehow made the cat feel threatened that he would do that to her. I asked her later if she was afraid of cats now. She said, "No." I would be if that cat bit me! In fact, I developed a fear of cats when I was a teenager & some friends had taken in the runt of a litter of kittens. Looking back, I think the cat was a feral cat & wasn't really enjoying being inside. I just recall the mom picking up the cat to take it upstairs & that cat screeched in a sound that was eerie, and I think scratched her really badly. I'm not afraid of housecats, but I do have nightmares about cats attacking, both housecats & even big cats like lions. I wonder if I'll have one of those dreams tonight.

Let's see, this is our 3rd trip to the E.R. in 5 months. I'm thinking we might not be the safest friends to be around!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Funny Valentine

Another day when I've slept more & don't need to get up early I'll share about our Valentine's party. I just had to write about what Bethany did. Yesterday at Wal-Mart she picked up a bag of Dove Chocolates. You know, the really creamy melt-in-your-mouth kind? She asked, "Doesn't Mrs. Tuscher like chocolate?" Mrs. Tuscher is my friend, and her daughter Sara is one of Bethany's best friends. I said, "Yes, she does." B, "Can I get her this bag of Dove Chocolates?" Me, "Yes, that is SO sweet of you!" B, "Well, she's like my 2nd mother." Natalie then has to say something (okay, so Natalie HAS to say something every 5 seconds, so this isn't news), "Mrs. Clark & Mrs. Wagnon are MY 2nd moms. I'm like the Wagnon's......" I could tell she was trying to figure out what number daughter she would be. The Wagnons have 4 girls & a boy! We checked out & went on our merry way. On the way home from dinner tonight, Bethany said, "I have something else for you at home, Mama." I really had NO idea what it was. I assumed it was a craft, though she gave me a card she made earlier today. She handed me a wrapped present. It felt lumpy, so I said, "I think it's some of your rocks." She's been known to collect those. She told me it wasn't heavy enough. I opened the package & it was those Dove Chocolates! She actually tricked me & surprised me with those! I laughed & told her how sweet that was and how clever. She said, "Well, I didn't think Daddy was going to take us anywhere to get you something." She was right about THAT!

So, there you have a Bethany story for the day.

And a quick Natalie story. We ate in Blanco with Phil's mom & my parents at a BBQ place. They use butcher block rather than plates. We sat down & Natalie said, "This is a SLOPPY place!" My oh so messy girls didn't like NOT having a plate!

Good night!

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Asperger view

With Bethany, we never know quite what she will say. On Friday at a Girl Scout Cookie Booth, one lady said she didn't have any money. Bethany asked (in a voice loud enough for the lady to hear her), "How did she buy anything?" since the lady had a bag with stuff in it. The other mom & I both said, "Bethany....." in that shocked kind of voice. The lady was kind & said, "I used a card!" The table was not big enough for me to crawl under.

Last night at our booth someone said, "I can't get cookies. I'm on a diet right now." Bethany replied, "Well come back when you're off of it."

Today the girls were discussing what color they'd like to paint their room. I told them I'd like to paint the bathroom. Natalie told us what design she'd like to paint the border area. Then Bethany said, "We could get that Toilet Stamp and stamp around the border." She was referring to a rubber stamp in this hilarious set called, "Way to Go" by Gina K. Designs. I don't have that stamp set, yet, but apparently it is needed for proper home decor!

Tomorrow we return to co-op. I need to get clothes finished washing & drying so I can get to bed. It will be a long day.

Memories of Dad

Here is the full version of what Phil wrote for the memorial service. The pastor shared some of this at the service, but not all.

Memories of Dad - by Phillip Garrison

One of the memories I have of dad, is one night back in the late 60’s, as was his custom, to look out the bedroom window of the apartment we lived at in Austin, Tx, right before bed. The parking lot where our car was parked, was just about 100 ft away. He saw 2 men breaking into our car. He immediately grabbed his 32 caliber, silver plated, Browning semiautomatic pistol, and headed out the door. I saw him grab the pistol, so I immediately ran to my bedroom window and looked out – I knew immediately what the problem was as I looked at our car. I watched him go out and walk right up to the 2 men, who by now were inside our car trying to hotwire it. He pointed the gun right at them, and asked them to get out, which they promptly did. But no sooner were they out, they started running for the empty grassy field not too far away. Dad followed them with the pistol, and fired off 3 rounds at them. I couldn’t believe it!! I was 10 yrs old at the time, and I still remember to this day the excitement that I felt as I was thinking “WOW – this is sooo coool – my dad was shooting at the bad guys just like the police do on TV!!!!“ As a side note, he didn’t hit any of them, but they were so scared they stopped running, and he held them until the Police arrived.

Dad always had time to spend with me no matter how busy he was. After we moved out to Lake Travis, he never said no to me if I wanted to go water skiing (unless I had chores to do – that was different) even if he was bone tired from work that day. He would also sit for hours on the dock while I scuba dived, just to make sure I came back OK. Or help me work on my dirt bike – and transporting me to motocross races on the weekends. But I knew he really loved me later in life when, after getting my private pilots license, he and mom were willing to get into the airplane with me, and be my first passengers! That took real courage!

As tough as he was when I was growing up, as soon as he became a grandfather to two little girls, he magically changed. He would let them crawl onto his back and play horse. One time he was their model. They covered his face with makeup, gave him a wig, and even put jewelry on him. I think he enjoyed it as much as they did! Just as he loved to take me out water skiing, he always was ready to take the girls out for a boat ride, or pull them behind the boat on a tube. One of the funniest things that happened on the boat was when Natalie handed him what he thought was a piece of trash. He tossed it out into the water not knowing that it was her tooth that had just fallen out!

Dad was a tough man with a heart of gold. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it (and maybe if you didn’t). He had a rough exterior, but when it came down to the important things in life, he was gentle and loving. I think the greatest act of his courage and gentleness is how he handled having cancer and the pain that went with it. Not once did he complain about it. He would tell me he had to take a “pain pill” but that was just one Tylenol. He was in quite a bit of pain, but never let on and never complained.

Dad was obviously gutsy and courageous. But first and foremost, he was a loving husband, and father. All my years growing up, I never felt like I was second place in his life – he was a hard worker at his job, but I knew that mom and I always came first in his life. I never felt any other way about it. In the last few years, Lori would take the girls to visit my parents. She tells me that as soon as they walked in the door, the first question he asked was, “Where’s Phillip?” In a day when dads don’t always spend time with their kids, Dad set the best example for me.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

One Hot Mama

Phil, the girls & I are safely home. It has been a long day, a long week, a long month & a quarter---well, a long year so far! Phil has been OFF of work more than he has been AT work. He said it will be hard to go to work in the morning after being off so long. His company and his managers have been very gracious through all of this. He is asleep, as are the girls, and I am heading that way soon.

I had to tell you about our "Hot Time" at Grandma's first. Bethany, Phil & I were all still sleeping in on Saturday morning when Ruth came in & said, "You need to get up! We all need to get out of the house!" Her smoke alarm was blaring & we could smell something burning. It smelled like an electrical wire burning. She had already called the fire dept. and by the time we got outside, they were coming around the corner to her house. In fact, 2 fire trucks were dispatched to the house. They did not find any smoke or fire and think it must have been dust burning on the heater unit. We still aren't sure about that because by then she'd been home a week & we'd had both the upstairs and downstairs heaters on during that time. When we got back inside she told the girls that they have more excitement at their grandma's house than other kids do! Almost every time SHE has gone to the E.R. the girls have been there. We told Natalie she has to learn to drive now to take Grandma to the hospital!

It was hard leaving today. When I asked if everyone was ready to go (to the girls & Phil), Ruth said, "NO!" Phil will go back next weekend & then if no one else is visiting on the following weekends we can go up. She has good neighbors and friends who will not only stop in but will make her get out & take walks and such. I think she may find herself WANTING time alone!

I need to get everything shut down for the night now. Thanks for all you have done for us over these past few weeks.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Over the River and through the Woods.......

From Grandmother's house we went. So, it sounds better when we go TO Grandma's house. We cross 2 or 3 rivers and pass trees on the way to Grandmother's house. I wouldn't exactly call them "woods" but it's as close as we get in Central & South Texas.

Today was extremely quiet at Grandma's house. It was nice. She got a package from fed-ex from a sweet friend who lost her husband 2 years ago. It was a package of thank-you notes and a journal with pen so she can write to Bill in it each night. She will be such a comfort for Ruth in the days, weeks, and years to come.

The girls took Grandma for a walk today. The lake has been lowered to allow clean up of trash from storms earlier this year. It's a constant level lake (normally), so they have the ability to raise and lower the lake. Most of our lakes are man-made expansions of rivers. They got home & told me they'd walked on the bottom of the river! They had a fish scale that was at least 1" in diameter, some pretty shells, and told me of fish skeletons and a shell they'd opened with something still living inside! Sounds like they had a good science lesson today!

I wanted to ask if any of you are going to visit with Ruth over the next few weeks or weekends, if you could e-mail me or Phil to let us know. My e-mail is and Phil's is That way we will know to NOT go visit that weekend. Let me clarify, since that sounds like we DON'T want to see you! LOL! What I mean is we'd rather go when she doesn't have other company. We need to do things here, but I know it will be hard for Phil to not go see his mom. Knowing someone else is there will be helpful.

Thanks again to all of you who have called, sent cards, and attended the service yesterday.

Now to get 2 little munchkins to bed!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

100 Hugs

Today was a LONG day. I'll get to the 100 hugs in a bit. My parents joined us to ride to the church. Ruth wanted them to sit with us in the family area. Of course, with a family her size, the family area was pretty much most of the church. When we went down to the fellowship hall for lunch, I looked at the 5 rows tables (probably 24' of seating each) & thought, "But where will the non-family members sit?" We did all fit, by the way.

The service was very nice. It was not sorrowful or mournful. Tears that were shed were just from fond memories. The pastor shared some of his own memories, then shared what Phil had written. We sang, "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "It is Well" (Vicky, Phil's cousin, said after reading the story behind the song on my blog she couldn't sing out loud; sorry about that sweet Vicky!). At the end, we sang, "Shall we gather at the River" because Ruth said that Bill loved the old Baptist hymns, especially when Tennessee Ernie Ford sang them. We probably didn't sound like him, but we did sing it!

The Scriptures reminded us that death has been swallowed up in victory through Jesus' death on the cross! And that one day He will wipe away our tears.

Phil's cousin (his cousin Pam's daughter) Whitney sang "The Prayer" by Josh Groban and it was beautiful. This 14 year old girl sounds like a professional singer!

The church ladies (yes, the "church ladies" look the same and are just as sweet and busy workers at all churches, I think!) made lunch for us. They had sandwiches, chips, veggies, fruit, and a ton of sweets. I quietly slipped into the kitchen to see if any of the sandwich filling was left that I might have. I was just going to ask & when they said "no" slip back out, but then they were all trying to fix me up with something, and one had a friend with celiac, so she asked, "What is it exactly that you can't eat?" I usually just say, "I can't eat bread" or "I'm allergic to wheat" but this lady caught on when the others said to scrape off the inside of the sandwich & I said I can't do that. I told them not to worry because I was certainly not going to go hungry with all the food they had out and here at the house!

After all the hugs and, "Are you THE DAUGHTER-IN-LAW?" (which I was beginning to think might be a bad word the way they asked!) and "Are the girls twins?" (if only I had a dime for every time we get asked that---and a dollar for the look on their faces when I tell them they are 2.5 years apart!), we were able to eat, then load up the van & head home. Several friends and family came back to the house, with more food! We visited and visited some more, looked at albums trying to figure out who everyone was, and then ate some of that delicious food. Oh, the girls also sold several boxes of Girl Scout cookies that we brought with us! One of Phil's cousins has a daughter who is about 7 mos. older than Bethany (but about a head or more taller). The 3 girls played outside for a bit, then I suggested they go for a walk. I wouldn't send my own girls on a walk out here alone, but Kayla seems so much older that I felt okay with the 3 of them going out.

About 8 or so, the last of the family had to leave. The girls are in pj's watching a movie with Grandma. One or both of them will sleep with her tonight. I think we will ALL sleep well tonight! I can hear Ruth laughing at whatever they are watching. I think she'll enjoy her time with them more than she was able to these past few months.

We still will have one more service to bury the ashes at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio. That date has not been set yet. Maybe that will be on a weekend and some of the ones who couldn't come will be able to.

Now to those 100 hugs. I've mentioned that Ruth has a big family. She had 7 brothers, and all of them had kids. I lost count trying to figure out how many. Phil is the only ONLY CHILD, and a couple of the brothers had 4 or 5 kids. And they've had kids. And some of those kids have kids. Then, there is my family that extends beyond the "inlaw" part. My sister-in-law's (Robin's) parents and her brother and wife, my inlaws, and my family have had Thanksgiving together for years now. One year we had 4 grandmothers (3 of them great grandmothers) with us early in our marriage. Of course now the moms are grandmas. Bottom line is we are all just one big family. So today Robin's parents came, too. And all kinds of cousins & friends on Bill's side, and lots of church & neighbor friends. Natalie was next to me in what became the receiving line. Bethany was kind of hiding behind her. We got hugged, and hugged, and hugged some more. Natalie is a very touchy girl (in more ways than one!) so I think for awhile she enjoyed it. Apparently at some point, however, her attitude must have changed. She came to me tonight & said, "Mommy, I think I've had 100 hugs today." She told Phil, "Daddy, I've hugged so many people today. I don't think I can hug anymore." They were both troopers (apart from the occasional "I'm bored" or "I'm hungry") these past few days. Natalie has been anxious to sell more cookies, so I told her she could bring them out and the neighbor and uncles bought up a bunch. Now we need to find the list and go door to door tomorrow.

The 3 of us will head back tomorrow so we can go to a dr's appt. on Thursday. Then we have a cookie booth on Friday. We'll come back on Sunday, hopefully in time for a cookie booth we have at 2.

Thanks again for all the prayers and words of encouragement. I'm sure for Ruth the next few weeks will be difficult as all the family is gone. Though, tonight she talked about joining her brother & sister-in-law on a trip to Germany later this year! I think that is a sign that we will all move on for the years we have left on this earth.

Have a restful night.

Casseroles, etc.

I think meals taken to grieving families should be called casseroles, etc. The other day one of the girls asked me, "Do people still take casseroles to you when someone dies? In the Molly movie, they said that's all people took." So, when we got to Grandma's we asked. Someone had brought a casserole. But, in reality, people have brought food that really spoke from the heart. A platter of lunch meat and cheeses with some fresh bread; lasagna; eggplant spaghetti sauce and noodles (and I love this woman---she put the noodles SEPARATE so I was able to cook my own noodles & eat some of the food!). One lady brought salad for us, plus oreos (the girls were thrilled since I won't buy them anymore as they WERE my favorite cookies, back before celiac disease), and DARK chocolate M&M's, and some other snacking food. She said, "I thought the girls might like something to nibble on." Then tonight Uncle Harold & Aunt JoAnn (Ruth's next younger brother by 18 mos.--she is one of 8 children & the only girl!) brought venison summer sausage (Kathy, you know how happy THAT made Phil! He told Harold, "You're my hero!") and fresh vegetables from his garden!

We have done more than just eat today (or yesterday now that I'm up past midnight again). Natalie & I finished assembling scrapbook pages and a large display with 6 of the pages. It's just pictures & some embellishments (pretty stuff on the page) now, but I'll add writing later. We attempted to get some accompaniment music on a CD for Phil's cousin's daughter to sing with at the service, but it just wouldn't burn on a cd. Another one of his cousins (did I mention that all 8 of those kids had kids, who've had kids, and some of THEM have had kids) also has a teenage daughter who will sing a song called, "The Prayer" by Josh Groban at the service.

The phone has rung off the hook. At times Ruth would be on her cell phone and the landline would ring. I told her I was waiting for the moment when we all 3 had our cell phones in use & her home phone would ring! She was up at 4 a.m. crying & never went back to sleep. I am praying for her to sleep better tonight. Tomorrow will be a long day. I think with no body there it might be a more cheerful service; a true memorial service.

Phil has written some fond memories of Bill and let me play editor. He will not read it at the service (even if this were NOT a memorial service, he wouldn't read in front of a crowd). The pastor will do that.

Now I'm off to try to get a good night's sleep. Please remember to pray for all of us in the morning.

We love you & thank you for all your prayers, notes, and encouragement.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


The memorial service will be on Tuesday the 5th at 11:00 a.m.
St. Peter's Lutheran Church
1803 Hwy 1431
Marble Falls TX 78654

No flowers, please. Donations can be made to the church.

Groundhog Day

Do any of you remember the movie "Groundhog Day?" I never saw the movie but I know the premise from several other take-off movies. The idea is that a man wakes up, goes through his day, goes to bed and wakes up again----and it is the same day all over again. In the versions I've seen, by the end the person has figured it out and gets to change things about the day.

I thought of that since yesterday (I guess at 12:30 a.m. I have to officially switch dates) was a day we would have liked to have changed. We would have liked to wake up and realize that the night before was a bad dream. We would have liked to have heard Bill's voice. We would have liked to see him puttering around as he liked to do, or playing dominoes at the computer, or watching yet another old cowboy movie. But, unlike the movie, this is real life. We don't get to "do over" the day.

This is where I find the grace of God so amazing. We don't get to do the same day over & over, but we DO get a chance at "do-overs" each new day we wake up. In His Word, we read:

Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3: 22-23

We don't know when our last day will be. We never know when we will breathe our last breath. If you could have a "do-over" what would you do? Is there something you can do tomorrow to make a relationship right? To mend a hurt? To remind someone that you love them?

The greatest hope that we hold through our loss of Bill here on this earth is that because of God's great love, He sent His only Son to die for us, so that when we die, we will not die for all eternity but live, IF we have accepted that gift He has for us. We trust that because Bill confessed Jesus as His Lord, he is now in the presence of the Lord in a new body full of health. And we cling to the fact that we will see him again.

Our hearts will ache, and we will grieve. We've shed so many tears these past 3 weeks, and yet, we always find that there are more just waiting to fall out. Today Bethany asked (though she said she didn't expect me to answer), "Why didn't God do a miracle for Pop Bill?" I don't know why. I know that he has rescued Pop Bill from his very sick body, but why God chose eternal, ultimate healing now, I don't know. Bethany had to write on a form 2 questions she would ask God. That was one of them. Maybe we'll ask Him together. She then has asked, "What if he really wasn't dead & he is buried, then he wakes up?" I tried to explain the medical tools (which fascinate her, and lead to an experiment to find our pulse rate!), but it hurts to know she is wondering these things. She isn't crying, just asking questions. Since the girls were with my parents, they told the girls this morning. Natalie wanted to sit with us part of the time we were discussing arrangements & such.

Our hearts will also be comforted. Natalie & I are working on something for Grandma (shhhhhhh! It's a surprise, though she already saw part of it & didn't know it was for her). Bethany is offering advice, "When Grandma feels sad, she needs to eat something. When I'm crying and I eat something, I don't cry anymore."

I think most who would need to know info on arrangements may have been contacted already. In case you haven't, we don't have a definite date or time yet. It's hard to arrange when you have a family as big as Ruth's! Probably Tuesday or Wednesday. It will be at their church, St. Peter's Lutheran in Marble Falls. Here is a link the church with the address: There will not be a viewing, as Bill's body will be cremated.

By tomorrow I should have more details and will let you know.

Please pray that we will all rest well these next few days.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Home at Last

Bill is now in his final Home. We got to the hospital about 7:40. His breathing rate was extremely rapid. They started morphine, and switched from ventilator to oxygen tube (because of the high breathing rate) around 8:00. Just minutes after 10:00 pm he took his last breath. Phil & I were both there. Ruth had gone to the hotel after saying goodbye to her husband for 53 years. It was very difficult for us, but I know that by the grace of God, we will make it through this.

I have no information about funeral time, etc. yet. I have only slept about 4 or maybe 5 hrs. since yesterday, then drove home. After a nap, I might be more coherent & might have more details on the service. The girls & I will go up tomorrow.

Just as a gentle thought to all of you who might attend the service: we have learned that people grieve in different ways, and need different things at this time. For Ruth, I think she will need the support of lots of people. For Phil, he will need "space" and time alone. I would like to ask that if he seems to not want to visit with people that you would graciously allow him that "space." I will probably just need a big box of tissues and a bigger dose of patience with the girls!

We love you and thank you so much for your prayers!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Bill is not going to make it

Phil & I are packing to go to Temple. THe doctor called Phil & said his dad isn't going to make it.

Please pray.