Monday, May 8, 2017

A Year Ago Today

It was a year ago today, May 8, 2016, that my dad passed away. 

Eleven years before that he had been diagnosed with COPD and emphazemia and had been being treated for both ever since. While in the hospital, five days before passing away, we discovered that he had been misdiagnosed. He actually had a lung disease called silicosis...a condition that is caused by inhaling too much silica over a long period of time.

My dad had worked at the Independence Stove Foundry in Independence Missouri for 23 years. They made cast iron products that were cast in silica sand. The lung doctor explained that, once silica sand gets into the lungs, it never goes away. Like tiny blades that cut with every breath, the sand continue to cut into the lung tissue, eating away at it little by little, all the while creating and, eventually, filling the lungs with masses of scar tissue. The doctor said that my dad had no healthy lung tissue left and that there wasn't anything that could be done for him. My dad was 49 years out from his last day of work at the Independence Stove Foundry. 

After a 10-day hospital stay my Dad was brought home on hospice; in less than 24 hours he was gone.

On the afternoon that my dad passed away, I posted the following update on Facebook:

"Dad's first night home started off not too bad. When he first got there he was communicative and interested in things...namely water, coffee, chicken noodle soup, and an Ensure shake. These were spaced out throughout the late afternoon and early evening hours. 
About 4:00 in the morning Dad started having some difficulties. His breathing became erratic and funky. He came home with a pain patch and an anti-anxiety patch from the hospital. We started the oral counterparts at 4:30 this morning. By 6:15 his breathing was still erratic and he asked for more meds. I called the nurse because the instructions said once every four hours, but the nurse said to go ahead and give them to him. The doctor has since said that he can the meds every hour if need be.
Dad was still somewhat uncomfortable when Amber arrived around 7:30 or 8:00. At that point he asked her to play some of their songs. She played several songs on the keyboard for him, then he asked that she play some of their CDs. Once the music started, Dad settled down, his breathing became less erratic, and he has slept most of the day. He's had lots of company coming and going and he's acknowledged pretty much everyone by opening his eyes, but, basically, he's just sleeping. Nothing seems to bother him (people coming and going, the great-grands laughing, playing, crying, the phone ringing...NOTHING) and he seems very comfortable.
The hospice nurse was there a short time ago and she said to keep the music playing round the clock because it seems to have such a calming effect on him. She also said that, based on his numbers, she is giving him maybe two more days, but that that could change very quickly. For now, there's still time. If anyone wants to come by and visit with him while they can feel free to do it. Just come on or night.
I want to take a minute, too, to thank all those that have been thinking of my dad and praying over him. Thanks, too, to the many friends and family members who have called and/or come by. It means more to me than any of you will ever know.
And, keep in mind, while this may be a sad time for those of us who will be left behind, this is also a time of great joy. My dad accepted Christ and has been a faithful servant of the Lord for many, many years. There is no doubt where my dad will spend eternity. In fact, at 6:00 this morning, I heard him whispering over and over "Oh, God! In the name of Jesus!" He was calling on the Lord to deliver him from this earthly vessel. And, soon, the Lord will answer that prayer and the angels will rejoice as one more saint makes their journey home to meet Jesus face to face. And oh! What a day of great rejoicing that that is going to be!!!..."
As soon as I finished the update, I ran by Casey's to grab a drink and returned to Dad's. Within minutes Dad was gone. Here is the update that I shared that night...
"Well, I'm finally home from Dad's. I'm sure many of you have already heard that shortly after I posted my latest update, my dad went home to be with the Lord. Dad went so peacefully and I'm so thankful to have had so many friends and family members there today. 
While Dad was still with us various friends and family members came and went; after Dad left, the whole clan converged. We had to wait a while before the hospice nurse could get there, then an addition hour or more for the funeral home people to arrive. Friends and family members continued to call and/or come by, the children played in the yard, the adults visited and shared old stories and memories. I am thankful for the family and friends that I have. I love each and every one of them so much. I do have a lot of calls and messages to return...and I time. 
Please know that your thoughts and prayers at this time mean the world to me, but, know too, that I am not sad. The past 11 years have been miserable for my dad...the past two have been really bad...especially these past four months. My dad is no longer laboring to breathe. He's not stuck in a box...imprisoned within the four walls of his own home with the exception of keeping a doctor appointment or going to the hospital. This has been a long, ongoing ordeal for him and I am so thankful that he is no longer suffering. 
He was so peaceful this afternoon...sleeping...his grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and good friends gathered round him...his great-grandchildren laughing and playing at his bedside. I'm going to miss him...yes...but, ohmygoodness! I'm so thankful! So privileged to have had the pleasure of being his know that he lives on within me and my children and my grandchildren..."

It's hard to believe that it's been a year now, but what a joy it is to know that Dad has been free of this earthly vessel and in the presence of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, catching up with loved ones who have gone before, and partaking of just those first, few, early days of all eternity that stretches beyond. What a joyous and wonderful time he must be having!

God bless you, Dad, and thank you! I love you and I miss you and I look forward to the day when the whole clan is gathered on the other side, there to rejoice in the Lord's presence forever and ever! Amen!

Until next time...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Five Minute Friday - SHOULD

Photo found on Facebook that reminded me of the friendship 
shared between our youngest son and Shep. 

Five Minute Friday a free write, which means, as our hostess, Kate Motaung, says, " editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write."

This week's prompt is: SHOULD.


It's late and I should be headed to bed right now. I was scheduled to work today (didn't make it) and am scheduled to work tomorrow. The truth is, it looks like it's going to be another long night and I doubt that I make it then either.

As I type this, I sit close to our dog, Shep, who is resting quietly right now..the dog that came to us as an adult stray 17 years ago. 

Over the years Shep has been a faithful friend and loyal companion...especially to our youngest son who had just turned five when the dog showed up unannounced on our doorstep and decided...all on his own accord...that he would stay. (I really don't think that we had a choice in the matter!) Our youngest son will turn 22 in August. He came by today to say good-bye.
Shep In Younger Days - Snow Dog
Oh! How he loved playing in the snow!

As I write this post, Old Bean (as I lovingly refer to Shep sometimes), lays on a pallet of blankets at my feet. His breathing is shallow and irregular. Up until just a few hours ago, despite the problems that he has been having, when awake, has followed my every movement with his eyes not wanting to let me out of his sight for a moment. My husband and I have spent the past two nights in the livingroom to be close at hand to assist and comfort him as he has not had the strength nor inclination to make it to his bed in the bedroom next to our own bed.

It's been a bit of a blur...waiting, watching, getting up, assisting him as he incoherently moves from one spot to another, losing control of himself, washing urine soaked towels, and bedding. Should we have handled it all differently? We could have, but feel that we've made the best choice for Shep. Just trying to get him to a vet would have been so traumatic for him and, to be honest, I don't think that his heart could have handled the stress of it all. I think tonight will be the last night that we will have to do any of this.

Shep's been a good dog. He's guarded our home, loved our family unconditionally , melted our hearts, and, at times, driven us crazy with his idiosyncrasies, of which there are many. He's been a faithful friend to Stripes. (Stripes is the stray cat that came to us the same year that Shep did and in much the same way...a stray.) Stripes instinctively knows that something is wrong with his dear old pal and insisted on joining us on the floor last night just to be near him.
Shep and Stripes
This picture was taken just a few days ago.
The two pals share a special moment in their sunset years together.

We will miss our Old Bean. He's been a good dog. (Did I say that before? I think I did. And, if I did, it's because it's true. He has been a good dog!) We will miss him terribly, but am thankful to know that very soon he will be free of this decrepit, old body and returned into the hands of his loving Creator.

As we patiently wait upon the Lord this night, we take comfort in these verses from II Corinthians 1:3 and 4....

 "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
By the way, thank you to the one who blessed me with second confirmation this afternoon. You know who you are. It meant everything! Thank you! 

Until next time.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

April 2017 - Part 3 - It's All In A Day's Work

I will soon be celebrating my third year anniversary as a naturalist at Prairie State Park in southwest Missouri. I didn't start off as a naturalist there, but have been in that position now for the past two years.

One of the things that I do as a naturalist at Prairie State Park is to teach children and adults about life on the tallgrass prairie. With spring, comes school groups...lots and lots of school groups...public, private, homeschool, and preschool.

Here are a few of the classes that I have taught, or took part in teaching during the month of April at Prairie State Park...

We had several public school groups visit in April. Every one of them had their own dynamic. The teachers and children were a lot of fun to be with and we shared some great learning moments together.

Our preschool program in April was about life cycles. We talked about many animals, but our focus was on the life cycle of the monarch butterfly.

With the help of myself, parents, and siblings, and using a variety of craft materials, each preschooler created their very own butterfly life cycle wheel. 

The theme for April's homeschool class was nature photography. For this one, I sought the help of someone a little more knowledgeable on the subject than myself. Homeschool graduate and our youngest son, James Anthony! He came as our guest speaker and taught the class the basics of photography. I sat in on this class as a class participant! 

After class we got to go out and practice some of what we learned. It was a  very wet and rainy day, so we couldn't go outside. This is my attempt at a panoramic shot in the auditorium.

Here's a crazy shot that I took of one of the stuffed bison in the nature center. I think he looks rather handsome...don't you?

James answered lots of questions and guided each of us in use of our own personal and specific devices. Some of us had digital cameras, others had an Ipod, Ipad, or a phone. I don't know that any two of us had the same type of device, but James was pretty knowledgeable in the workings of every one of them.

The diorama made a great place to search out tiny plant and animal life and capture them in photos.

After being involved at Prairie State Park for over 20 years, and working there for three, it was like I was seeing some of this stuff for the first time. Here is a coyote that is in the mural on the wall. 

And here is a meadowlark that is in the same mural. I mean...I've seen this stuff before...but I had never really looked at it until this class. It was awesome!

This was a great bunch of children from a private school. We had a lot of fun together and I so enjoyed having them! They were a real joy to work with! 

And, last, but not least, nature bingo! Playing nature bingo is a monthly occurrence at Prairie State Park. It's a fun game that teaches children and adults alike about many of Missouri's unique plant and animal life and, the best part is, everyone wins a prize! 

Well, that concludes my three part series on happenings in my life in April. I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into my life as much as I enjoyed sitting down and sharing it with you. I hope to visit with you again soon.

Until next time...

For Part 1 of this series - April 2017 - Part 1 - Trip To Branson - click here.
For Part 2 of this series - April 2017 - Part 2 - Spring on the Hearth and Home - click here

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April 2017 - Part 2 - Spring on the Hearth and Home

Spring, in all its glory, has arrived here in southwest Missouri! Everywhere I look there is new life! Fresh green grass, new flowers blooming, and baby animals everywhere!

Here are a few of the things that I have spotted in our yard over the past few weeks...

Bleeding Heart
Robin Eggs


Peter Rabbit

With spring came the celebration of Christ's resurrection and Easter. I colored a few eggs after I got home from work on Good Friday.

Nana's Colored Eggs
The next evening we had an egg hunt for the grandlittles. All of our grandchildren, but one, was able to be there. It was loads of fun and there was lots of candy for all!

And, with spring, of course, came the rain. Towards the end of April the deluge started and with it came wide-spread flooding. It was much worse to the south and east of us, but we got our fair share here on the tallgrass prairie. These pictures were taken in and around Liberal, Missouri.

Our Backyard

The Low Water Crossing At Prairie State Park

An Area Farm Field

Another Low Water Bridge Crossing

A Bridge In The Country Completely Covered By Water

Oh! And those robin eggs? Here's how that story ended up...

Three Baby Robins

That's it for Part 2, but there's more to come in Part 3!

Until next time...

For Part 1 of this series - April 2017 - Part 1 - Trip To Branson - click here.
For Part 3 of this series - April 2017 - Part 3 - It's All In A Day's Work - click here

Monday, May 1, 2017

April 2017 - Part 1 - Trip To Branson

I miss sharing the everyday happenings of life here in southwest Missouri with my readers, so I thought I'd spend some time this afternoon to share a bit about our happenings in April. This will be the first of a three part series.

APRIL 2017 - Part 1 - Trip To Branson

In early April my husband, John, and I took a much needed, long awaited trip to Branson, Missouri. Branson is only a couple of hours or so away, so it makes for a nice get-away within easy driving distance from our home.

Our trip started with a stop on the way down to visit my longtime friend, Dorothy, her children, and grands. Dorothy and I met in the fifth grade and have been friends for going on 45 years now. It was great getting in a good visit with her and her family.

After leaving Dorothy and her family, John and I headed on to Branson where we got checked into our hotel, then enjoyed supper and a show at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. It was the first time we had ever been and we really enjoyed it. My favorite thing, of course, was the bison! 

After breakfast the next morning we went to the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery and, in the afternoon, to the Titanic Museum. I have pictures taken at the hatchery, but none of the Titanic as picture-taking was not allowed.

That evening we attended the first of six sessions held over a three-day period of the 2017 Branson Victory Campaign held at Faith Life Church in Branson. While there we ran into friends from our own town and they just happened to be seated with us on the last night. It was an awesome time of faith, fellowship, teaching, and learning. It is our hope to attend again next year.

On the way home from Branson we stopped at the Wilson's Creek National Battlefield near Republic, Missouri. My great-grandfather fought there during the Civil War, so this has been someplace that I have wanted to visit for a long time. I'm so glad that we finally did!

While there my husband got his National Park Senior Pass which, not only saved us money on that particular visit, but gets us into all national parks for free from now on for the rest of his life, which is pretty cool! We sure are hoping to do a lot of traveling in the days ahead!

Well, that's it for Part 1 of my April 2017 series. I hope you've enjoyed spending a little of our vacation time with me and I will see you again soon!

Until next time...

For Part 2 of this series - April 2017 - Part 2 - Spring on the Hearth and Home - click here.
For Part 3 of this series - April 2017 - Part 3 - It's All In A Day's work - click here.