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Monday, July 25, 2011

A Kleenex Kind of Lunch

We are in the dining room at Laurel Hill, a large room with wood floors and enough tables for all the residents and any guests who show up.  It is lunchtime, and our daughter Becky is here for the first time-----she and her husband Matt live in Eugene, and are visiting this weekend.   They both look so young and healthy, a refreshing but slightly jarring contrast to the assortment of broken, aging bodies in wheelchairs at the tables.  Becky is in her seventh month of pregnancy, beautiful in a summery dress.  I am watching Stu carefully as he eats, making sure he puts his fork down between bites, reminding him to wipe the left corner of his mouth,  listening as he tells me about what's on his mind-----I look up to see Becky reaching for her kleenex.   Suddenly I realize how different life is, and how much I've adjusted.   I see the scene through my daughter's eyes, and I stop for a minute and let it hit me.  I reach for the kleenex, too.  It's good to have someone to cry with.

Before long the rest of the clan arrives as planned-----first Shayna, eager to see Zaydie, followed by Lucas who is fascinated by Uncle Matt.  Rachel is right behind them, and Jerome is in the van looking for Lily's shoe.   In a few minutes he shows up with a barefoot Lily-----oh well.....(grin).    We are all together around the table, and Stu is encouraged to see everyone.   He starts to tell them all about how this experience has made him realize how much he loves me, and begins to cry himself.   It seems to be a kleenex kind of lunch!   I tell the kids how encouraged I've been that Dad is starting to show that kind of emotion.  And it makes me marvel at the elasticity of our marriage-----truly for better or for worse!

Finally it is time for Stu to be put back to bed in his room (this still requires a Hoyer lift, as he is still unable to sit up reliably by himself.)   When the attendants give us the all clear, the nine of us congregate in Stu's room for a final goodbye.   Stu requests a family prayer, and we take some time to lift him up, thanking God for the progress that's been made and the faith that is being forged.   And then we sing: "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!  Praise Him all creatures here below!  Praise Him above ye heavenly host!  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!   Amen"   How I love that simple doxology-----it says it all!

the kid's table in the barn, surrounded by Stu's art

a handmade card from a young guest

my funky ladder decoration

They're taking notes for twenty years from now:-)
We celebrated that evening with a baby shower for Becky-----she is due in mid September.    Couldn't resist sharing some pictures from that lovely evening-----we even needed some kleenex during that!  But not too much, and there was plenty of laughter to balance it out:-)

Until next time


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nose to pupik

 Just wanted to share a short video of Stu's physical therapist, Tex, working with him.   Pupik (pipik?) is Yiddish for bellybutton.   Stu's ending comment is so......Stu!   Enjoy!  If this link doesn't seem to work properly (I had trouble myself!) just try this youtube link:http:Nose to Pupik

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Unless the Lord Builds the House.........

Greetings, All!
             I've been holding off on reporting anything until I had a better feel for what's coming up next.  Lots of possibilities in the works, but no firm plans yet.  Still, it seems to be time for another update.

             First of all, last night Stu showed me something new------he is able to move his left leg!  The muscles are, of course, very weak, but his PT guy, Tex, has been working with him steadily and he is making progress.  It will still be a while before he can put any weight on that leg, but it's good to see it starting to come back to life.   Also, the feeding tube has not had to be used in several weeks, and there is discussion about removing it.  Yay!!  Stu is able to be at all three meals, in his wheelchair, another encouraging sign.  Most encouraging of all to me is the steady stabilizing of his spirits------he has down days, of course (who wouldn't), but we have had many wonderful conversations, full of hope and good cheer.  I spend the dinner hour with him most days, often on the patio outside-----sometimes I bring him a homecooked meal, sometimes we both eat whatever's on the menu at Laurel Hill.  Then we take a turn around the patio, sometimes venturing into the parking lot.  The routine is stabilizing for both of us!

             Now about the plan to bring him home......   The long range plan is to remodel Stu's old leather shop, making the bathroom and entrances wheelchair accessible, and making the space workable for both him and me to live in.  Our daughter Rachel and her husband Jerome would live in the main house with the grandkids, (a welcome change for me from living alone on these six unruly acres.)  All this would involve a great deal of remodeling----I have been making sarcastic jokes about dynamiting the whole house and starting from scratch for years now.      I like the way Jerome's eyes light up at the thought of farming this property-----maybe he will be able to bring my long-held dream to life!  I have always pictured this place as a working farm, with my little bakery right at the heart of it. 
             With this vision in mind, Jerome, Rachel and I sat down last week with my landlady of fifteen years and talked turkey.  She and her husband are amenable to the idea of a lease/purchase.  This is new!  The combination of our situation and the lagging economy has opened this door.  She is consulting an attorney about the best way to proceed, but it looks good.  The next day I met with the transition coordinator from Senior and Disablity Services about the remodel in the shop.  She came out and looked at the space, and was able to advise me on what would be needed and what kind of help we could get.  She assured me that Medicaid will help with equipment needed and caregivers.   There is also some help available with the remodeling-----but there has been an offer from my church to make the remodel a church project.   Wow.  Wouldn't that be a glory?   We will see how it all pans out, Stu and I are right in the middle of an amazing story!   Truly, God's Stroke of Genius!   If any of you has skill or materials that you would like to contribute, let me know.   On Thursday, after talking over all the work that needs to be done with a contractor, I found myself discouraged and overwhelmed by the project.  "How will it all be accomplished??   There's too much, it's never going to happen"  (this is my default mode, by the way-----I'm sure I'm not alone!)   It didn't take but a few minutes for this scripture to come to mind, though:  "Unless the Lord builds the house, he labors in vain who builds it"  Psalm 127.   It occurred to me that if God wants this work done, it will certainly be done----and if He doesn't, no amount of scheming or fretting on my part will bring it about.   He gave me that verse many years ago, and I have found it to be true on many levels.   Not just our earthly houses but our spiritual, eternal houses are planned and built by Him.  He knows what He's doing, and it's sometimes a surprise----but always so much better that my own limited imagination!
            Finally, my little bakery is finding it's feet after three months of limbo.  There were some hard weeks when I slowly had to face that I wouldn't be returning to Grower's Market in the foreseeable future.  Heavens!  I have not had a summer off in 29 years!   It's a little like standing in a cage with the door open-----is it really all right to step outside?  I'm finding that it is!   I am receiving private orders that I fill as they come in.  I have several accounts that keep me busy: The Human Bean, Grants Pass Pharmacy, Rogue Express, and Goin Rogue all carry cookies or scones.  And I had a Bakery/Barn/Art Sale last week here on the property and reconnected with customers, sold off some no longer needed items, and totally forgot to put out Stu's art!  Ha!  Guess I'll have to do it again to get that one right.  This week and next I'm preparing for our daughter Becky's baby shower-----our first grandchild from Matt and Becky is due in September, a little girl.  Hooray!  I am already calling her Scout (if you haven't read "To Kill a Mockingbird", you won't get it)   And there has been a constant string of birthdays, graduations, and celebrations of all kinds to keep me busy making cakes and party food.    Somehow it's all good----even Stu's current condition.  Last night, during our weekly reading of Job (truly a godsend for all of us every week, by the way),  Stu commented  "I am so encouraged by what we've said here tonight that I'm actually looking forward to being alone tonight with God after you leave!  This has reminded me that I really know him, and He loves me!  God is so good!"   Just another example of how the Lord builds the house-----from the ground up.  And He builds to last.   Can't wait to live the next chapter of this story-----I'll keep ya posted!