Thursday, February 03, 2011


We had to put our sweet, little beagle, Pearl to sleep yesterday. She was a little over 12 years old and until a few weeks ago seemed as perky as a puppy. Sure, her muzzle had gone from brown to white and she was a little slower than she used to be, but we never guessed she was in declining health.

About 2 1/2 weeks ago, she got into a bag of cookies that were left inadvertently within her reach. I imagine Pearl sniffed those cookies out long before we left the house and was just biding her time. In her little doggie mind she was probably thinking, "Cookies, cookies. Leave the house, leave the house." And that's what we did. The four of us went out to the movies and then to dinner. When we got home there were two bags split open from top to bottom and not a single crumb of cookie remained. She hung her head when we fussed at her, but it was probably to hide the smile.

A couple hours later she was sitting in her little child-sized rocking chair and her tags started to jangle. Joel looked at her and she was trembling violently. We got her outside just in time. She didn't feel very well the next day and declined to eat. We weren't troubled by that; after all she had consumed a couple dozen cookies! Pearl hardly ate anything that week and when she tried, it wouldn't stay down. I took her to the vet and found out that she had jaundice and a fever. The vet took some blood, provided me antibiotics for her and said if she didn't get better in a few days it was probably serious.

Pearl didn't get better. She wasn't interested in eating and lay in her doggie bed all day. She would get up to go out and do her business but sometimes we had to carry her back up the steps. She would be shivering and trembling and we put a heating pad on her to get her warm; or sometimes one of us would hold her in his lap until she warmed up.

We couldn't leave her alone in the house anymore. She couldn't eat and was losing weight. Sometimes it seemed like she was perking up, but it didn't last. Finally we realized we had to do the humane thing for Pearl and we made an appointment with the vet. Don and I took her in and the vet put her to sleep. It was heartbreaking.

Pearl is buried in our backyard--the place where she loved to prowl and play and run. The house has an emptiness without her sweet companionship. We mourn her loss; but are thankful for her good life, her big heart, and the joy she brought to our family. Rest in peace, Pearl.
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Sunday, January 30, 2011


I have been musing a lot lately on an article I recently read on Loss. Unfortunately I can't remember where I read it, other than on the internet. Which brings me to a bothersome Loss: Memory.

My memory just isn't what it used to be, and becoming more and more so all the time. In college I could memorize vast amounts of information. My freshman year I took a history course from a professor who would spend the entire classroom time talking about what must have been his passion: Western Civilization. And I took copious notes, filling 1 1/2 composition books of notes each semester.

He had a reputation of giving very difficult tests. I was not daunted because I intended to memorize my composition books of notes . . . and that is exactly what I did. I was invincible when it came time to take his final exam. I flew through the exam, knowing every answer. I'm sure the professor thought I must have bombed the test since I handed mine in so quickly. How I enjoyed the look on his face as he graded it and discovered I had aced it.

Now why did I tell that story? Oh yes, to mourn the fact that my memory is not what it used to be. But that story describes a different kind of memory skill; I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday quite often. I don't remember movies; can't remember titles and authors of books I've just read that I really enjoyed. I could go on but you get the point.

Sometimes I exercise my recall skills by trying to think back over each day in a week and remember what I did each day, what I cooked for dinner, what I wore and other things. Occasionally I can do it. Sometimes it's a total blank. I make excuses for myself: I'm stressed; I've got too much on my mind; I'm tired. And I think those are all probably valid reasons for my memory impairment.

Not being able to recall like I used to do is a Loss for me. Which is why I make notes and lists, keep a journal, take vitamins, and play memory games with myself. On the up side, my movie collection stays very fresh.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Near Death Experience

Actually, I just felt like I was dying. I did survive, however, and am nearly fully recovered.

It started fairly innocuously. I was surfing the web on Tuesday evening, reading news while my 2 wonderful teenaged kids were cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. I started getting a little headache, which I mostly ignored since I suffer from frequent headaches. Then my back started hurting and my other joints started aching--all in the space of about 30 minutes. I retired to a more comfortable chair, wrapped up in a blanket, and started shaking. I had a serious case of chills and I was throbbing with pain all over.

The kids finished cleaning and came into the family room and stared at me. Through chattering teeth I asked for some ibuprofen and something to take it with. By then I had to move to a reclining position on the couch. My daughter fetched me some pillows and another blanket to help me warm up. They put on a movie to help distract me from my discomfort. About half way into the movie the ibuprofen kicked in, my aches eased, and the chills did a reverse course. I had to throw off all the blankets because I was burning up.

That was the story of my life for the next two days. My kids took care of me since my hubby was away on travel, plying me with gatorade to keep me hydrated and feeding me ibuprofen every 4 hours. They took such good care of me and asked many times what they could do for me. They never hestitated or complained when I made a request; they willingly and lovingly ministered to me.

I haven't been that sick in over 8 years and I had forgotten how awful it is to feel so wretched. And that is why I am glad I got ill--because I had forgotten. I needed that episode to remind me how terrible it is to feel that way. I needed it to help me empathize when my family and friends are ill. Some people have a natural capacity for empathy but I am not one of those. Now I can be a little better wife/mom/daughter/friend to those around me when one of them is sick.

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the Great Empathizer. He does much more, however, than understand us. He brings comfort, hope, healing, peace, and often divine intervention in the most unexpected ways. It is great to have a family member or good friend to empathize with our weaknesses or sorrows. It is infinitely better to have a Saviour who can do something about whatever ails us.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I've been on vacation--NOT

So it's been almost 6 months since I've last blogged. I've been busy. Now that everyone who knows about my blog has quit reading it since I haven't written for so long I think I'll start posting again.

We sent our oldest daughter, C, off to college 7 weeks ago. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. My grief started about 2 weeks before she left. Up until that time I was in denial that she was going anywhere. But when she started packing (and repacking) her clothes and belongings it hit me hard. It didn't help that my hubby was out of town a good part of the summer and most of the last 2 weeks before she left. My 3 best girlfriends were also out of town on vacations. I felt like a leaf twirling in the wind with no place to land for a good cry on a sympathetic shoulder. I know, it's a mixed up metaphor but you get the picture.

Her college is 550 miles away so I planned for us to take 2 days to get there. We drove 2/3 of the way the first day, checked into a motel, ate at a disgusting looking greasy spoon, watched a movie together. I cried myself to sleep. The next day we arrived at the college campus early, got her checked in and moved in. They had a very lovely convocation service for the freshmen and their parents. Then while the freshmen met with their advisors we went to a dinner with all the other parents--some of which were grieving like me and some of which seemed quite happy to be rid of their dear son or daughter. Actually, I'm grateful I have the kind of daughter that it is so sorrowful to see leave home.

For the first 4 weeks (yes, it was really 4 weeks) I cried every day. If anyone mentioned her name to me or asked how she was doing I cried. It was getting ridiculous and I was starting to wish I had some drugs. My other 2 children were getting worried about me. My mother was worried about me. I was worried about me. I don't know if my husband was worried but he let me cry on his shoulder a lot. He was sad to see her go, too, but you know how men can kind of put their emotions on a shelf. I, on the other hand, sometimes wear my emotions on my sleeve.

My father used to scold me for wearing my heart on my sleeve. That was when I was much younger. I never understood what he meant at the time. Now I don't post my feelings so plainly and much prefer it that way. But these feelings of sadness had a mind of their own and I could not control them.

One day in church I asked God to heal my broken heart and He inclined His ear to me and heard my prayer. I won't go into the details but something happened that day and I'm okay now. I don't know why I waited so long to call on Him for help. I guess I thought I could handle it on my own. I could not.

The four of us (hubby, son, youngest daughter, me) are going to visit oldest daughter this weekend for Parents Weekend. We are all looking forward to seeing her. I wonder if she's changed much.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Adventures in Housecleaning

Last fall (about 6 months ago) I handed my 15 year old son a box containing his winter clothes. I instructed him to change out his dresser drawers, i.e., take out his summer clothes, put them in the box for winter storage, and put his winter clothes in his dresser. In the past I always supervised this chore, or more accurately, I did it with him looking on. This time, however, I reasoned that he was old enough, mature enough, responsible enough to do it himself. Besides, I was busy with other things.

Since I avoid going into my son's room I didn't pay too much attention as to whether or not he had followed my instructions. He started wearing long sleeved shirts, long pants, sweaters. All was in order, or so I thought.

The one time I do go into my son's room is in the morning--to wake him up. Even though he dutifully sets his clock radio every night, it does not wake him up in the morning. I've never known anyone who could sleep so soundly. I can hear his radio blaring through the floor (he's in the basement). I go down after 10 or 15 minutes to see if he's getting up, and the room is dark, the radio is on, the fan is blowing, and the lump under the covers is not moving. Stumbling through the room to his bed, I turn off the fan, turn the radio on a little louder, turn on his bedside light, and start shaking the lump. "Time to get up, son. Do you hear me?" I leave him so he can get up and get dressed. Usually I have to bang on the floor above his bed at least once to "remind" him it's time to get up. I'll hear a muffled, hoarse, "I'm getting up, Mom." Minutes later he appears.

All this to say, I did not notice anything amiss with his room. Periodically, I asked him to clean his room--afterall I was stumbling over something in the mornings. A good mother tells her child to do something and then checks to see if he's done it. If he has she can bless him; if he hasn't she can remind him, help him, or discipline him depending on his age and the situation. Because my son is a really good kid, helps out a lot around the house and is very low maintenance, I didn't follow up on the "clean your room" chore.

That's why when he started complaining that his room was too small, a red flag went up on my mother's radar screen. How could his room be too small, I asked. He has a very nice sized room and he thought it was plenty big when he moved into it last summer. (My husband built the room in an open area in our basement--another story.) I suggested that perhaps it seemed small because it was so messy. This brought a very pained look to my son's face since he knew what was coming next.

I realized that the job was too daunting for my son to tackle by himself. Afterall he is a male and most of them become dazed and confused over the idea of a big cleaning project. That is why I told him this past Saturday that he had a date with destiny. Words like that from your mother are very frightening. What can she possibly mean? I didn't let him sweat too long though and directed him to his room where I offered to help him clean it.

First we tackled an armchair in his room that no one had sat in for a long time. Why? Because it was stacked high with stuff. As I put away the stuff--blankets and a sleeping bag--I came across clothes. Some of them were clean, but most were dirty. Behind the chair and piled at the foot of his bed were more clothes--in the same categories. As I began to make a very large laundry pile I remembered something. I rarely ever have any items for him when I'm folding laundry. All this time I've been in denial. He never smelled bad so I didn't realize he was wearing the same things over and over, with the occasional token item in the laundry hamper just to humor me.

The other thing I noticed was the empty box that once contained the winter clothes now lying dirty in a mountainous laundry pile. If the box was empty, where were the summer clothes from last year that were supposed to go in it? Why of course, they were still in the dresser! The dresser was filled with clothes that looked like they belonged to a midget since my son has grown about 4 inches since last spring. Every item of clothing in that dresser was too small for him. He hasn't used his dresser for at least 6 months.

When I told my 12 year old daughter about my adventure she said in disgust, "No wonder he never said anything about my April Fool's joke. I switched his dresser drawers around!" And so ended my adventure in housecleaning. Clean clothes that actually fit now fill my son's dresser, the chair is empty and ready to be sat upon, the room has become spacious once again, and I have a bag full of socks for cleaning rags. Do I have to wash them first?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Dare to Petition

Since my oldest child is fast approaching her 18th birthday, I've been reflecting on those first years as a new parent. I was going to be the best mother I could possibly be; and I had all the right books to guide me in that noble endeavor. I won't mention any titles because I don't want to disparage any of those gifted authors. But there was one book in particular that I was counting on to help me with any and all discipline issues that would arise with my precious, sweet child. Perhaps I even looked forward to that first event when I could assert my parental authority with all my newly gained wisdom.

I don't remember what my darling daughter did that first prompted me to apply a method suggested in my favorite parenting book. I do remember that my disciplinary method did not work. In fact, it failed miserably. I was stunned and frightened.

If the expert's advice did not work, I was lost. I certainly had no experience with this kind of thing. I was a brand new parent, I knew nothing. I was on my own. Or was I?

I had forgotten who the real expert is, the one who knows perfectly the best discipline for any situation, for any age. Yes, you know who I am talking about. And he inspired a book, too! Not only did he have a book; he was available for consultation anytime I was ready to ask for help.

I made my consultation with the Heavenly Father. I asked Him what to do about the particular situation I was concerned with. He gave me an inspiration, or an answer, whichever term suits your theology. I have consulted Him ever since then, especially when my earthly wisdom falls short of the measure. He has never failed to help me when I've petitioned Him.

Who needs books on parenting when the best parent, the Heavenly Father, is available to guide us in that worthy endeavor.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Homeschooling Milestone

As a homeschooling mom, I've had my ups and downs over the years.

I have three children that currently range in ages 12 to 17. We've homeschooled from the beginning. My youngest, a daughter, was born six weeks after my oldest began kindergarten at the kitchen table. So she can say she's been going to school all her life.

At one time, several years into homeschooling, I did not think I could continue homeschooling my oldest, also a daughter. We had too many clashes. She balked at nearly every task I gave her. She would suddenly get queasy the moment we began school in the morning. Moaning and clutching her tummy, she would rush to the bathroom and hang over the toilet. I stayed in the kitchen, seething, refusing to be manipulated. That little scene played out numerous times, never once resulting in the hoped-for upchucking.

One day, as I was praying for wisdom about this situation, God showed me that our relationship was my responsibility, not my daughter's. If it was too improve, I needed to do something about it. I asked God to show me what to do. The thing that came to me was that my daughter was looking for some attention from me. She needed a little extra love, nurture, sympathy, but she'd take negative attention if that was the best she could get. I started showing sympathy to her when she complained of her physical "ailments." I didn't let her off from any assignments; just hugged her and sympathsized and offered to pray for her.

Did I really feel sympathy for her? No, not really, because I didn't believe she was honestly sick. But I loved her and wanted her to know I loved her; and if sympathy from Mom was going to demonstrate love to my dear daughter, well, she was going to get it.

Funny thing, the queasy tummy episodes stopped; my relationship with my oldest daughter improved wonderfully; and I kept homeschooling her. There have been some other challenges with our relationship as teacher/mother to student/daughter, but with prayer and guidance from God we've made it to the milestone every homeschool mom dreams of: my oldest daughter is "graduating" from homeschool this spring, she has demonstrated her scholastic skills and has the test scores to prove it, and she's been accepted to several colleges with scholarship offers from all of them. I'm so proud of her. I'm so proud of me!! We did it!!

Thoughts on Terri Schiavo

I've read myriad commentaries and news accounts about Terri Schiavo in the past couple weeks. Most of them have been from a pro-life perspective because the news sites I visit most often are conservative or Christian. The determination of the pull-the-plug people has puzzled me. It seems that rather than supporting Terri's right to die, what they really want is the right to kill her or anyone else in such a condition.

Why? I keep asking myself. Why can't they be satisfied to let Terri's parents care for her? Why is Michael so bent on killing her? (It's not letting her die, it's really killing her.) How do they know she wants this?

I already knew about the "quality of life" argument. The one that argues Terri's quality of life is so poor that she wouldn't want to live, that no one would want to live like that. It is a weak argument, though. How can anyone say what someone else is feeling or what someone else wants, especially when that person can't communicate. No one likes to be told how they feel or what they are thinking, including the people who are doing that very thing to Terri. So what is really going on with the so-called right-to-die folks?

I found part of my answer in a couple of articles I read last night on NRO's website: Human Non-Person and Odd Felos.
Those who are supporting Terri's right to die are really fighting for the right to kill certain people because, in their way of thinking, they aren't really people!! Terri, and those in similar conditions, are no longer persons; they are "human non-persons." You cannot kill a person who is not a person.

The concept that some humans have less personhood than others, or no personhood at all, is quite frightening. It makes everyone of us less human, less of a person. Where will it end?

I think those who support such a position need to take a course or two in critical analysis and logical thinking. Some day these very same right-to-kill advocates are going to approach and enter non-personhood. Are they prepared for that? Do they really want that brave new world?