Category Archives: hospice

Life and Death: Basketball and Christmas

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A unique and special idea for those children who are disabled, with illnesses and

cancer is to celebrate Christmas in July.  There was a Hallmark movie, called,

“November Christmas” that also follows the concept that “Life is too short. . .”

From babies to a specific college freshman basketball player named Lauren, who

have dealt with cancer and deadly diseases and illnesses, we are sending out our

heartfelt wishes for healing and relief of pain. Wishes for families to keep up the

valiant work in making their lives comfortable and meaningful. This post is not

meant to depress readers, but to show how much others are willing to extend

themselves to make special ones ~ young people’s lives~  dreams come to fruition.

 

Brian Rutledge has property set up in Ohio, where he has “Santa’s Hideaway Hollow.”

His friend, from Mecca, Ohio, B. B. Simons arrived in July with his own rendition of

the Tow Mater, (the red truck which has a country accent), in the children’s animated

films from “Cars.” His Tow Mater had a large furry white beard that caught children’s

eyes. Their hearts and hopes to see Santa, fulfilled by Brian’s large-framed Santa,

dispensing not only “Ho Ho Ho’s” but a grand and festive meal, ice cream treats and

other wonderful holiday ‘treats,’ such as red tubular ‘balloon hats,’ with white tubular

‘beards,’ blown by one of the numerous volunteer elves.  Children wore these, along

with visiting a ‘nails and beauty’ salon, where colorful nails with glitter were ones

that little girls and boys displayed.

The red clad volunteer ‘elves’ arrived on horseback, in golf carts and other means of

transportation for this event, where three large tour buses with over 300 hundred

people, families and children unloaded. Some were shy, some were outgoing and

dancing to the beat at the drum circle, where a parent of two special children who

include one with  battling sickle cell anemia and hydrocephalus were there.

Toys and gifts given by donations from others, are specifically labeled, since Santa

Brian remembers the children who have come here a few times, along with messages

sent ahead from guests’ adult members, making sure the gifts fit the little ones’

requests. Santa’s Workshop is filled with wonder and excitement by all who enter.

 

The song, “It’s a Small World” (After All), reflects the true meaning of this place and

the holiday spirit.

 

There is a young college freshman basketball player, named Lauren Hill, who has been

battling a serious case of terminal cancer, found in an inoperable mass in her brain.

She came to Ohio’s Mt. St. Joseph University, fully intending to be a basketball ‘force

to reckon with,’ but her aggressive cancer has caused the NCAA to give permission

and there is a special game to watch, nationally played on Fox Sports today. It is held

at 2 p.m. so put Lauren and her team in your thoughts and prayers. The Cincinnati

location of Xavier College basketball courts, with Hiram University versus Lauren’s

team causes me to hold my breath and heart in a pinch. I just felt so much emotion,

reading this in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sunday November 2, 2014.

The part that grabbed me and would not let me stop from writing this post, was the

doctors and family did not even expect Lauren to be able to wait for  the originally

scheduled November 15, 2014 game. Special arrangements between her Coach, Dan

Benjamin, and Hiram’s girls’ basketball Coach Emily Hays, plus the permission of

the NCAA meant this is like a ‘last wish granted’ to Lauren.  Everyone working to

make this ‘happen’ deserve: “Thanks!”

 

Go Mt. St. Joseph University Girls’ Basketball!

 

For those who are professionals in hospitals and doctors’ offices, all those who teach

and touch these young peoples lives, through paid positions and volunteering, all

are ones who get a ‘Big Thank You’ for making a difference in these families’ lives.

The ones who leave money to Hospice and “Make A Wish” foundation, along with

cancer research programs, also are in our hearts and minds.

 

Life, death, Christmas and basketball…

 

Bridges to Span

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In the snap of a finger, poof! Life is too short to worry,

wait on that special thing you wish to do or not cross that

bridge… This is about what chances that you must take,

face what obstacles you reach and tackle them: Head on!

My daughter in law, Trista, left me a text on Wednesday,

it asked for me, the family photographer, to check on any

photographs of her stepmom, Chris. I have known Trista for

almost seven years, her stepmom, six and a half years. Last

Christmas, Chris was told she had anywhere between four months

to a year to live. I snapped several photos, each celebration,

this year, birthdays, Easter, summer pool party, county fair

week, after Thanksgiving party was the last one I took a few

photos of Chris. Trista sounded cheerful in her text message,

“Check in your ‘arsenal’ of photos for ones that have the

kids with Chris.”

I texted her back at lunch, saying: “I will be going to the

library, have Felicia coming over for a movie and Mom night,

will look for pics while watching our Christmas movie.”

Everyone in the family knows we absolutely love the movie,

“Love Actually!” (Warning: it is rated “R” for some very

frank parts with female breasts and the “F” word is used

liberally. But, seriously, it is the BEST Christmas movie,

ever, for adults. Lots of stories weave around the theme

of “love.” We watched it, I found nine very nice photos of

Chris, told Trista that I would stop by on Thursday, after

work.

If you are a “regular” reader, you will note I did nothing

on my wordpress, yesterday. I did post something about Brad

Pitt on Wed. evening before heading home for dinner, snuggles

and a slumber/movie party with the youngest daughter.

Upon arriving at Jamie and Trista’s home on Thursday, I was

sprinting up their stairs to their porch, waited for the

inevitable child to unlock the door and was pounced on by

one of the three dogs. The hugs were pretty long lasting

from my M & M girls. Then, Marley released me, looked up

into my face and said,

“At least you are not dead!”

I looked at Trista, who was working on her homework on her

laptop, and she nodded with her lip trembling just a bit.

“When did this happen? I thought you wanted photos of Chris

because you were making a collage or montage photographic

masterpiece for her Christmas gift?”

She told me,

“I didn’t want to text or call you but Chris passed away on

Wednesday.” (Guilt rose up in me, so ashamed that I didn’t

call or ask what she was needing the photos for.)

Trista quietly said, “It is okay, she is at peace and don’t

feel guilty! I heard from them early in the morning, wanted

to take off with all four children to see her, since the

Hospice caretaker said it would be ‘soon.'”

She added, “Dad told me to take the kids to school, not to

rush and come with the little ones, that would cheer Chris

up. She died while I was on my way to pick up Theresa who

had dropped Hailey off at school, too.” (Theresa is one of

Trista’s best friends.

Jamie peeked out of the delicious and aromatic kitchen and

asked me, “Can you stay for dinner with us, Mom?”

I said, “I can help however I can and of course, I would

love to eat dinner with you!”

We ate grilled steak fajitas filled with rice, corn, onions

and tomatoes. There was a spicy sauce for those of us who

like a little spice in our lives! Smile!

The kids seemed to be doing all right, I told them each I

was so sorry for the loss of their other grandma, “Grammy

Chris.”

After dinner, the kids went outdoors to shoot off these

rubber band ‘rockets’ that Trista and Jamie had purchased

at the dollar store. I asked Trista when the services were

going to be, told her that I was going to have to work on

Sunday while they were going on. I offered to watch kids

on Sat. from afternoon until evening. She declined, said

they were still going to Dayton to see my ex and his wife,

‘Mimi’ and ‘Poppy.’

There are only a few memories that I would like to briefly

share, since this is about life and bridges to cross. I know,

and believe with all my heart, that Chris is in heaven. I

am sure that there would be others, looking from a distance,

at her wild and checkered past, her marriage to Trista’s

Dad and their continued addiction problems as ‘negatives’

but Chris’ heart was always in the ‘right place.’ She

absolutely loved helping others and gave a lot of her

time and energy to her grandchildren. When we hugged the

last time I saw her I told her that I loved her and would

pray for her. It was that Saturday after Thanksgiving.

She had the “Grace” to admit,

“I’ll take all the prayers you can give me!”

When I had the most fun time with Chris, was on Trista

and Jamie’s wedding day. We had a huge pile of folding

chairs, card tables and rented longer tables. People

knew it would be outdoors, so most were bringing a

covered dish to share and their own portable chairs.

We had the stack of tablecloths to put on each table,

late September and we were battling a breeze so were

anchoring each with a heavy rock, then taping the

white plastic tablecloths with packing tape and then,

replacing the rocks with vases of flowers filled with

water, they seemed ‘heavy enough’ to hold and not flip

over. We were laughing, we stopped and went up into

Trista’s Grandma Judy’s house and have a cup of coffee

and peeked at the triple decker, gorgeous cake that

Jamie and Trista had made. I told Chris that I had tried

the icing and the cake of their “practice” cake a week

ago. The white chocolate fondant icing was ‘to die for!’

We went back to struggling with the weather to get the

tables set up, the beautiful table for the wedding party

of three young women and three young men plus my son and

his soon to be wife looked ‘professional’ we agreed, once

we were finished.

Chris had dark hair and glasses, was a thin and tall woman

with a friendly and sweet face. She had small features and

while guests arrived throughout the day, many asked who did

not know us, were we sisters? I would like to say we became

that close. Not quite, since it was not the stuff of calling

each other on the phone, nor the going to visit each other’s

home… It was each and every occasion for the years we knew

each other, knowing we could go in the bathroom together,

I would like to say we ‘could count on each other’ to say a

nice compliment and hug each other upon greeting and leaving.

Some say there is a tunnel while dying and that you will see

a ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ I have mentioned that once

my Dad’s heart stopped and my Mom ran into the hospital hallway

to yell for help. It was late at night, that once he arrived

“back” from being revived, a clear four to five minute gap,

the machine started beeping and his heartbeat started again.

Dad joked in a jovial way the next day, while we all arrived to

see him,

“Hey, I went to heaven on a space ship! I rode it through a

warm, brightly lit tube and once I got there, I saw my father

and mother, other’s hands reached out to touch me,” Then

my Dad would add, “And I guess if the likes of ME can make it

into Heaven, anyone can!”

I hope that Chris crossed over a bridge or up a tube or into

the Light. I would like to add a few bridges I would like to

cross. Maybe this is my new “Bucket List!”

Bear Mountain Bridge, New York:
This bridge spans one of the narrowest spots along the Hudson
River. It is surrounded by mountains. It is considered one of
the most ‘picturesque bridges in America.’ If you drive up the
winding road to the top of Bear Mountain, you will see a most
beautiful sight of Manhatten, 45 miles away. (Free)

Old Seven Mile Bridge, Florida:
This bridge was laid by railroad tycoon, Henry Flagler.
This is the only roadway to Key West made over 100 years
age. In 1982, the old bridge was replaced by a new one
only a short distance to the south of the original one.
You can still walk or bike across the first one, more
than 2 miles into the ocean, where you may spot pelicans,
sharks and dolphins. (Free)

Perrine Bridge, Idaho:
This is a steel bridge that arcs like a rainbow, 486 feet
above the Snake River. This is the only bridge where someone
can parachute from a fixed object, called BASE jumping.
This, amazingly enough, is allowed year-round without a
permit. A short distance of only one mile to the East,
you can still see the dirt ramp that Evel Knievel made
his attempt to jump the Snake River canyon, (Free)

Wheeling Suspension Bridge, West Virginia:
This is the oldest bridge in my choices of wishing to
cross large and exciting bridges! This 1,010 foot long
bridge was opened in 1849 before the Brooklyn Bridge
was built. This one was the ‘example’ possibly for
the B.B. looking very similar in appearance. Walk
halfway across the moving, undulating bridge to view
barges passing below on the Ohio River. It would be
wonderful and exciting to view movies or listen to
concerts on the waterfront below. (Free)

Royal Gorge Bridge:
This bridge is high above the Arkansas River, 1053 feet!
You can take an incline railway to the river below, for
$26 to the bridge, park and railway. There is a theme park
adjacent to this 1929 wood-planked bridge, but crossing this
would be much scarier than any rides! This is the only one
I would need to bring my wallet for!

Whatever your beliefs about dying are, we all will experience

this through losses of loved ones, both family and friends.

We eventually, inevitably will face this one day for ourselves.

I guess “We’ll face that bridge when we come to it.”

It Took 45 Years in the Making

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Forty five years after Rick and Judy met as teenagers of age 19,

they finally got “hitched.” This couple met, smiled and admired

each other from afar. Judy liked Rick’s warmth and the way he

lit up the room. Rick liked the shyness and quiet eye contact

when he met Judy at a party where she was with girlfriends

watching the boys ‘make fools out of themselves.’

They never dated, danced or spent much time together, but

their friends ‘ran around together.’ Eventually each married

someone else.

When they got together in 2004, Judy had three children, six

grandchildren (like me, I thought when I heard this Cleveland

couple’s story!) Rick had  two children and three grandchildren.

The amazing thing was, Rick says, this would not have gotten

started if Judy heard he was single from that old ‘gang of theirs.’

She called him up on her birthday and said, (with some trepidation)

“How about a date for my birthday?”

Rick was thrilled to reconnect with someone he had admired and

she was also, excited to see this life of the party man grown and

matured. They instantly knew they were going to spend the rest of

their lives together.

She had become a nursing assistant and was still practicing this

in a hospital setting, he was a pipefitter who was starting to feel

the pain of arthritis and like his own “parts were wearing out.”

In just one short year, 2005, Rick got sick. He ended up in the

hospital with a stroke. He had another complication, diabetes.

Judy, being prepared to take early retirement, decided to nurse

Rick ‘back to health.’ He recuperated mainly and they started to

walk for their healthy future. They chose Cleveland “Emerald

Necklace” metroparks. They particularly liked the Nature Center

at Shaker Lakes.

Rick was so discouraged that he felt weaker and when he went into

the hospital the next time, he had congestive heart failure and then,

dialysis.

Their dream had been to bring both their families together and have

a small wedding. Once Crossroads Hospice learned of this wish, they

put it into action, first getting family and friends who visited to get

a complete list of the “old gang” and their addresses.

With promises of every day being a special one, from this day forward,

Judy and Rick exchanged their vows. There were bouquets, boutonnieres,

wedding cake, linens, music, favors and a wedding suit. The men wore

purple shirts under gray suits. Judy’s dress was a lacy beige. It was a time

of reunion, celebration and hopes abounded.

No matter how many or how few their days they have, this was the way

they really wanted to share their final days. The loves of their lives came

later than some but; better late than never!