it’s just an opinion and everybody has one

March 11, 2014 at 10:14 am (end stage congestive heart failure, heart failure and exhaustion, how does it feel to die, living with dying, peace of heart, support system, the dr. says, words of wisdom) ()

last weekend my sister posted a question regarding suze orman. she wondered if anyone else found her mean-spirited (my words not hers).  angie stated she had stopped watching her when she really turned on some guy and pretty much told him his situation was hopeless.

i had seen part of the same show angie was referring to and had not finished watching.  i have not watched her for years.  not that she isn’t very savvy financially.  she just doesn’t know how to relay her message in a kind and caring way.  the times i watched her i believed she cared about other’s climbing out of the hole they had dug.  however, over the years her message has taken on a hardness and at times she ridicules those who have come to her in great need.

at the bookstore and costco i am aware of all the self-help books that cover a wide range of topics.  then there are the political books and religious guides.  some of you are going to be offended by this and for that i apologize.  i can not let that keep me from talking about my truth.

in the end these are all someone’s opinion. even books based on science are and can be tainted by the author’s point of view.  there is a better chance that science won’t be biased but most of us don’t want to read science alone.

we want to read books that support our way of thinking not those that challenge what we think is true.  over the years i have been a proponent of personal truth.  my grandmother started explaining this to me before i could really understand what she meant.  this woman who raised me in abject poverty with only a second grade education, will always be the wisest woman i have ever known.

her way of looking at the world brought her peace and contentment.  she shared this with me and i believe it has been my saving grace.  it is all opinion and that person’s truth.  we can take it or leave it. how simply beautiful, respectful and a peaceful way to live.

she passed from the same heart disease i now live with.  if i am moving down this path with more ease than some it is thanks to her.  if i am, and i believe i am, moving down this path with ease it is thanks to my family.  to have a family that loves, cares and understands how you need to make this walk is a great gift.  to have friends, including my friends here, that get you and love you regardless is a great gift.  to have friends who share their experience with you and trust that you can care about them regardless of your own situation, that is a gift.  for women who play bridge with your husband and have become shining examples of how to do this with grace, they are a gift.

suze orman could learn so much from them.  all of these people could teach her how to be supportive and caring while being an example of success.  you never need to belittle another human being.  if you want other’s to learn and hear your message be an example through love and kindness.  that is my opinion, love and kindness.  i have been blessed with these gifts from other’s and hope to pass it on.  what will you pass on? how will you share you wisdom? i hope it is with kindness and love.

my grandmother as a young woman.



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what they say is true

March 5, 2014 at 6:00 am (end stage congestive heart failure, heart failure and exhaustion, how does it feel to die, living with dying, peace of heart) (, , )

“you can never go back” the rest of that quote is “home again.” With mixed feelings I tell you this is one of the lessons I came back with from our trip to California this past Christmas. We had such a wonderful time and I am going to include some pictures here. If you would like to see more I am posting them on my facebook page and you can friend me to see them.

We arrived in Sacramento, California rather late on Saturday night. It was great to be back and immediately felt like coming home. Things went fairly smoothly when getting our rental car and then checking in to the hotel downtown. Downtown Sacramento is nothing like downtown Atlanta. On Sunday we or rather I, slept in so I could be ready for dinner with friends. One of our favorite places to eat is a Chinese restaurant, chinois. In the past it was great food and great service.

for some reason i could not get the pics to load. i am sorry for this and if anyone can give me some pointers i would greatly appreciate it!

In the first picture is alexxa my heart child. That is a long story but she is much loved by us and it was beyond wonderful to see her again. Many tears were shed in this reunion. She has a very kind and gentle spirited partner mo who also came and we were happy to meet her. Alexxa has custody of 4 children through family situations that I will not share here. They were so open hearted and loving it made me sad to think I could not be present in their lives. It would bring such joy to be closer to this family, to be in their lives in a real and meaningful way. That is not to be so I will just hold them in my heart.

The second picture has our friend mary, I missed her husband Gregg who was to her left, and dave. Dave and chris have been friends for almost more years than I have been alive. They manage to keep that friendship over the years in spite of the miles between them. Mary and Gregg have been our friends for about 20 years. Gregg has gone through some horrendous health issues and continues to suffer as a result of cancer of the throat. Funny to see this retired history professor who used to insist on being called dr as he had his phd, being playful with the kids who were with alexxa. The children were so well behaved and a delight for all of us adults.

As much as we loved seeing everyone there is this realization that things have changed a great deal. No one was the same as they had been. This is actually a good thing. I was so proud of alexxa and the woman she has become. Dave seemed more at peace with his life than I have ever witnessed. Mary and Gregg also seemed more relaxed as evidenced in their interactions with the children.
Yes things were very different. Not in a bad way at all. We were happy for our friends and loved ones that their lives were on track and rewarding. If we moved back our relationships would not be the same as they had been 10 years ago.

It has been 10 years since we moved to Georgia. There have been many times over the years that we have talked about going back. Times when we felt we just don’t belong out here. Our politics and opinions are so different from the people who live here. Those are the times I have to start making a list of reasons we are happy here. The great gift from this trip was to really understand that we could not go home again because it was no longer our home. This is our home.

Chris has asked me at times do I miss this place or that, calling them home. My reply is always the same and I believe he is understanding that more now. My home is him. If I am with him then I am home. Home is not a physical place; it is a place in your heart. A place that brings you comfort, joy and contentment that is home. If I am with him then I have all of those things and more. If I am in his arms I am loved and safe and at peace. California is no longer our home. Georgia is our home. He is my heart and soul home. We are home when we are together.

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he asks

November 8, 2012 at 12:25 am (dying, end stage congestive heart failure, how does it feel to die, living with dying, peace of heart) (, , , , , )

last evening and night were one of the most difficult yet.  even with the excitement of the presidential election to distract me the angina pain, liver pain, leg pain and inability to breathe could not be denied.

he reached and held my hand. no words were necessary.  the warmth coming from his beautiful, loving hands said all that needed to be said.  love you’s as deep as the well and passionate as young love flowed from one side of the lounger to the other.

today in the car he asks “is there anything i can do when you are going through that?”  the answer? you are already doing it.  the comfort of your love is the only medicine i need now. it is the only medicine that can bring real relief from this eternal pain.  we both know this is what is supposed to happen.  that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stink! as a mist comes over his eyes and i fear he is going to cry….

look honey aren’t the trees amazing this time of year?  wow what a great day!






and just like that we are back to us and appreciating this day we have been gifted.

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a different kind of night

October 26, 2012 at 3:03 am (dying, holidays, how does it feel to die, leaving, living, living with dying, peace of heart, shackelford ponies, the dr. says, waiting) (, , , , , , , )

tonight is very different from just a few nights ago.  my sister is stretched out on the couch and is leaving tomorrow.  yesterday we went to see Argo with ben affleck and it was gripping.   as we walked up to the counter to pay she turned to us and said “i can pay for myself.”  of course she can, she has a great job, travels, lives in san francisco on her own.  she has a ton of friends and an on-off boyfriend.  i don’t have any reason to worry about her, well …. except she is my baby sister and  lives on her own in san francisco!

 this evening we spent together took me from the moment, to the past and the future.  in that moment i realized she is going to be fine.  a few years ago she came to stay with us, at the time she was going through an awful lot of emotional turmoil.  we were sort of a resting place, a place for her to make some decisions about what she wanted to do without the stress.  since i was 14 when she was born and the mother  really turned her over to me, i have a very protective love for her.  hearing her say she could pay for herself brought me back to the moment and i was so proud of her. 

the down side is it feels like letting go of that baby girl i first held, the girl who called me in germany to tell me about the boys she liked, the time she had a fight with her boyfriend and through her tears came to my lap to sit and cry.  the upside is i can go and know that she will be okay.

knowing that everyone is going to be okay is important.  my sister has said and it is so true, we are good, we have said  everything we need to say.  our calls end with i love you so when i go there is no doubt that we have a good relationship.  my husband will be sad but he is going to be okay.  my step-friends will be sad and they will stand by their dad and help him if they need to.  my friends know that i care about them and that if something needed to be said i would have said it.

so now, more than ever, we are just waiting.  while i am waiting i think i will go to the ocean and see the wild ponies. then we will have a big family thanksgiving, after that a cruise to the islands, and round out the year with the traditional Christmas in charleston!  this very well may be my last one and if it is i am going out with a bang:)  life is good, yeah life is real good!

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you made me laugh, you made me cry

March 26, 2012 at 12:10 am (being remembered, last message, peace of heart) (, , , , )

we all know that we have some friends that we can go long periods of time without talking and yet we can pick up right where we were.  there are friends that we have not heard from in a long time and yet we feel we can pick up the phone, get on fb or send smoke signals and they are going to pick up the phone, fb us back, or get out the matches.  I have been blessed by such friends although I am not always sure what I have done to be so lucky.  as a result of these relationships, and of course others, I have never respected the people who say they are your friend but don’t make the time or effort to be your friend, the people who say “let’s stay in touch, get together for lunch….” ad nauseam when we both know they don’t mean it. just be real people it isn’t like I don’t have friends and need your pity.  as a result I have said to people, I know it isn’t going to happen or that we both have very different lives and it seems unlikely we will see each other again.  one young woman said to me as I was leaving one job for another, “I would like to say I will keep in touch but I have never been good at that.”  it was all I could do not to applaud her or cheer for her honesty and thanked her for her candor.  she is a dear young woman and we both knew it wouldn’t happen.  all this is leading to a point.  first I hope that you are not the phony friend. second I hope that you have many friends that even though you do not talk everyday, you know and they know you are just one phone call away.

the phone for some time now has been an issue for me. text has been good to me. in the past, text was not my choice of communication mode.  with the shortness of breath and unpredictable pain/energy problems it has become a life-line at times.  even facebook has taken a backseat. several days or a week may go by without my using the computer. it is better now that I have a laptop.  oh we are so indulged by technology.  recently I received a message on fb from a friend in calif.  it has been 8 yrs since leaving my job in Sacramento.  we had a kind of family there at the agency, outsiders beware! we could say things to each other that we would fight (sometimes literally) anyone else who said the same thing.  one day one of the counselors was running the domestic violence (offenders) group and he came into my office obviously shaken.  he was quite angry and told me that this guy was sort of flexing and being disrespectful (more to it but not here).  within a beat i was headed to the group and stood toe to toe with this guy who was obviously quite fit, taller than me (that isn’t hard to do) and young.  he was doing everything he could to intimidate me and what he didn’t know was he had just made me more angry than most people will ever see me in this lifetime.  as I left the room, he had put away his cellphone and been humbled enough to return to his seat, another counselor was standing in his doorway.  another person was in the office and had heard the exchange but she had stayed next to the phone to call for help if need be.  she couldn’t see joe standing in his door.  he may be close to a foot taller than me and can look pretty mean for the softy he is. leaning against the door frame he says he was watching just in case but the way he saw it I was not in need of back up.  of course he laughed as only he can laugh and I smiled. the other counselor chose to finish the group and I had much respect for him for that.  i often wondered if that guy knew how close he came, i have taken verbal and physical abuse for years in the past. for some reason i could not stand up for myself, however, the thought of that guy treating someone i cared and respected with such clear abuse (guess he was in the right class) was intolerable to me.

there is no reason for anyone else to remember that.  being remembered is at the heart of us as human beings.  some people are sure that they will be remembered. some leave money or things behind trying to guarantee they will be remembered. sadly there are those who die alone and know they are not going to be on anyones mind or lips tomorrow.  this makes me sad.  a couple of nights ago I watched a really crappy movie called Sweet November. it was about a young woman who is dying from some unknown disease at some unknown future time. she does say one profound thing, “if we are not remembered it is like we did not exist at all.”  at times I have wondered if my grandchildren will remember me.  as time goes by we all fade from memory.  some families have pictures to look back on for reminders. the memories are in our minds though.  even 24 yrs later I can remember my grandmother like it was yesterday and am so grateful for those memories.

ok so I have to stop and give myself an injection and blow my nose, wipe my eyes (allergy season you know).

the following is a message I received on facebook from one of my calif. friends.  she made me laugh, oh that girl could make me laugh.  one of the great things about diogenes is that no one took “position” that seriously.  of course we all monitored ourselves somewhat around the executive director, other than that we knew the “chain of command” we just didn’t care!  so here it is-

   I admire you. I always have. Don’t know if I will ever get to see you again here on Earth, but I want you to know that you have impacted my life greatly. I remember admiring the way you handled the kids at Diogenes and how you gave such positive counsel to them and all of us. I will always have fond memories of you and how you have helped shape me into the therapist I am today. …..and your baggy pants.

I wish you well and will continue to follow you on this path. You are deeply loved, appreciated and admired by hundreds or thousands of people who have had the privilege to cross your path. I know I am one of them. I pray for you to have continued peace in this final journey we are all on. The reality is we all have a timed stamp. Some just know it sooner than others. I don’t know what your beliefs are but I pray that you find peace that are looking for as to what awaits you on the other side. I know I don’t fear death however it may rear its head in my life as I know God has been a constant fortress for me in my journey and I have peace where death will have no sting for me.

she made me laugh….. and now she has made me cry:) thank you dear girl for that.  I thank you for praying for my friend when he had surgery, it didn’t seem like the time to start praying. my friends husband was too important to his family to risk that conversation not going well.  with your faith I knew she and her family were in good hands:) yes I have been blessed in my life.  I say that I have peace of heart and there is no greater peace for me.  there is no fear of what is to come.  whatever it is I am ready and at peace with my path.  it led to a sister,  my child, my husband, my girls that have been shared with me, grandchildren and friends.  yes this has been a blessed life, no complaints here.  I just hope if I have to go to hell DiDi that I don’t have to wear tight pants:)   by the way, chris cried too.

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we are so much more than our bodies

January 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm (peace of heart, Uncategorized) (, , )

we have all heard the saying “my body is my temple” and yet what that really means can be very different for different people.  recently someone asked me where my home was. this is to most people a question of where were you raised/born or spent the early years of your life.  my answer was a bit confusing to our friend, it was on her face and clearly not what she was expecting to hear.  my home is where my love is.  my love is my husband and when we are together we are each others home.  doesn’t matter the geographical location, those are just places and places are what we decide they are. 

today I was reading a blog by psychevida, it began with  a beautiful picture of a place we have seen before.  it is majestic, beyond beautiful and leaves us in awe of the world we live in.  she goes on to ask “Where might I find the modern spaces which can replenish and sustain my dehydrated spirit?  Those filled with the grace, joy and tranquility upon which my real life is dependent?  Where do you find yours?”  the answer for me is in my heart.  which I have to give some thought to here.  if my physical heart is damaged, literally dying then I am grateful for my spiritual heart.  for years this has been a process to connect my scientific mind with my spirit self.  when the body fails us it is a comfort to know that we are so much more than the organs, blood and skin that contain us.  my heart is struggling, my heart has never been stronger.  the physical heart wants to rest, wants to slow down and prepare for its last beat.  the spiritual heart feels stronger than ever and is so full of joy and love I wonder how it can exist in such a small space. 

going to a physical space that reminds you who you are and how to connect with the spirit that lives in you is one way to be restored.  gratefully time has taught me that gift lies within myself.  friends have said they like the atmosphere of our home, that it feels warm, relaxing and inviting.  that has come from both the conscious choice not to allow chaos in our space and honor that this space is our retreat from the outside world.  we also choose to be that space for each other and to create that space again within ourselves.  the phrase “peace of mind” is often used, however, I feel it is more a peace of heart.  if you are at peace in your heart it does not matter what is going on around you.  there is peace in my heart and I am blessed to have found that before my other heart dies. 

lately I have been reading other blogs and admire their eloquence.  i am not such a writer, I write now for my spirit.  the scientific me knows all this is quite literally in my head, all these feelings and the joy are products of my brain.  or is it?  we are so much more than our bodies, so when our bodies fail we are still whole, it is when the spirit is broken that we are failed.

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