Don’t Take without Giving in Return

Dear Reader:

Fall, unofficially, fell for us yesterday…we woke up to temps in the high sixties and most of the morning and early afternoon stayed in the low seventies…it felt so good to be alive yesterday.  There was hope in the air that fall couldn’t be too far away. I could feel it in every fiber of my being.

I was so excited to meet Jo and Colby at McAlisters for lunch! I feel like I am Colby’s Aunt Becky when I am around her…watching her grow up…with every visit over the past few years….remembering this picture a few days ago…now and then.

On the left Colby was either finishing up elementary school or just starting middle school…and now Colby is a senior about to graduate this year….the one thing that hasn’t changed is the strong grandmother-granddaughter bond between the two of them..the love is palpable.

They surprised me with all kinds of adorable mementos …including a beautiful  crystal rabbit for me to remember the first day of each month! I put it on the ledge above my computer and it catches the light…especially the morning light…like a lighthouse beacon. Beautiful!

As soon as I sat down  I gave Jo one of Honey’s flower vase turtles…I knew Honey would love her favorite teacher getting one of her new designs.

Suddenly Jo mentioned that Colby was just back from Texas…it was the second trip…and I immediately wondered if Colby might be considering a school in Texas for college next year.

Wrong. Both trips had been to the MD Anderson Cancer Center. I sat quietly and waited for the story to follow. Colby had been feeling tired all summer…she also suffered from heat melt-down to the point that she couldn’t swim or even get out in the hot sun.

They went to MUSC first and there they suspected a thyroid problem…examined her but thought it was something that would probably take care of itself and would be watched….it didn’t go away. Colby felt worse and now her senior year was upon her…more tests to see why the thyroid numbers were continually getting worse.

Donna, Colby’s mom, decided to take Colby to MD Anderson Cancer Center since they could get her in faster than MUSC…they initially didn’t think it was malignant either…but Colby continued feeling weaker and weaker.

More tests followed at both institutions and now MD Anderson wanted to do the surgery on the thyroid. They ended up taking half of the thyroid off last week. Currently they are running tests  on the tissue to see if they took care of the problem or if it is still going to need more attention.. So this will be a tough wait this week….but you wouldn’t know it from our adorable Colby.

She is all smiles and ready to get her senior year going…she sings in several groups at school and she just wants to get back with the activities she loves. Resilience is a strong asset of Colby.

I asked Colby how she felt about her story being shared and she said it would be good…Colby believes in the power of prayer too…and would appreciate any and all prayers as they await the latest findings. *And y’all dear readers are the best prayer warriors!

What we want to hear is what the logo signs says at MD Anderson…scratch out cancer!!!!

I left Jo and Colby… filled with inspiration from this dynamic duo…went to the store…got fixings for “Lucille’s homemade soup” (mom) and went to work putting all the ingredients together…letting it simmer until I had made a big pot of it….filled up a large container…made cheese bread to go with it…put two rose buds in another of Honey’s flower vases along with a card and headed to Coach and Mrs. McKissick’s house.

Coach is home from rehab and we all had the best time catching up and laughing at memories from the football days and all the fun we had …trips, parties.

I then called Vickie and told her I was bringing her a bowl of soup and cheese bread….Fuzz, her cat followed me home…While talking with Tommy, my son, on the phone I kept hearing Fuzz meowing and there she was …on my window ledge listening to the conversation…I went out on the porch and we just sat quietly together…thinking about the wonderful day I had.

But my day still wasn’t over…I went to check my box and there was a package from Beverly Parkinson….the cutest handmade birthday card…with everything I love in my garden…moon flowers, basket flowers, dragonfly, butterflies, bumblebees…and decorated in orange…my favorite color! You are SOOOO TALENTED Beverly…you amaze me! Thank you so much…I love my card!

So until tomorrow….What a glorious day…a day that reminds me that life is always worth fighting for…because days like yesterday will come again…and it will be worth the wait!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

Happy Birthday Lassie! Aren’t we the luckiest people to have a birthday in September… especially when it surprises us…and brings cool weather ….the best gift of all…right?

 

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The People God Places in Connection with Us…by Time or Place

Dear Reader:

I keep reminding myself these days… when the world’s problems seem too overwhelming to contemplate, much less take action on, that we are continuously reminded by people like St. Augustine that we don’t have to travel the world in search of needs and kind deeds…God provides the people around us …even in front of us…  in our normal daily lives…to be recipients of our love and kindness.

Since you cannot do good to all…pay special regard to those who, by time or place, are brought into closer connection with you. (St. Augustine)

When Jesus said, “Love your ‘neighbor’ as yourself”…he, too, meant love the people around you and be a first responder to their needs…since you can get to them quicker than others.

Don’t we all have memories of being in the right place at the right time to stop an impending disaster? I remember David ran out in the road after a ball just as the school bus turned the corner one cold frosty morning…I froze…unable to speak, much less scream. But George, my neighbor, an older boy, hollered loudly at the bus driver with waving arms…putting himself  between David and the impending bus.

I can still hear the screech of brakes, David’s startled face as the ball bounced from his limp arms and George standing tall waving and screaming frantically. He was the hero of the neighborhood.

My childhood memory of being in the right place at the right time…dealt with a couple who had a little boy (about a year and half old) in the duplex side next to us. I was “home alone” one afternoon when I heard the most horrifying screams coming from the other side. I ran over and stopped dead in my tracks.

Apparently Phyllis (the mother) had been boiling eggs for supper and while she got something out of the fridge the toddler reached up and grabbed the pot handle pouring the boiling water with eggs on him. I have never forgotten that sight…Phyllis told me to hold the screaming child as she got ice cubes out and wrapped them in a cloth napkin …then yelled for me to sit on the floor and hold him while she called the ambulance and her husband.

I still remember that horrible scene as I rocked Danny back and forth watching blisters popping up all over his chest and legs…soon his cries became a whimper and I don’t know which sound was more unsettling. I remember praying like I had never prayed in my life…I was probably around ten at the time. To this day it is hard for me to boil an egg…too many memories associated with that day.

There was a long road ahead for Danny with skin grafts but right before we moved to Laurens…Phyllis and her husband, David, stopped by to show us Danny…his skin discolored in places but over all miraculously normal. Until the day they moved she would tell my mother that God had me home that day for a reason (I had a cold) because she couldn’t have gotten through it without me.

It was the first time I felt like there was something going on in the universe bigger than me…that there was a plan for everything that happened…whether it made sense to us at the time or not. I think I grew up  spiritually that day on the kitchen floor-I felt God for the first time… realizing I held a child who was completely dependent on me.

I know many of you have found yourselves in similar situations throughout your life when you were in the right proximity to prevent a disaster or to comfort one after it happens. A “deja vu” of kindness. I would love for anyone to share their own unique incident.

Editor’s Notes: (Ameeta)

“There’s  a saying that either we get a person for life or a lesson for life. While every person is deserving of kindness, what if we were to view the particular people who cross our paths as life’s lessons and opportunities for growth…uniquely tailored just for each of us? 

“Since we can’t bless everyone, let’s learn the lesson of compassion and be kind to those chosen few placed before us. “

So until tomorrow….

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

In spite of continued hot weather…the flowers are still trying to ‘stay alive’…we are supposed to have a couple of cooler days coming…I pray some rain will come with it.

Beautiful rose from Amanda’s rose bush, the mini-red petunias have been troopers all summer, and is there anything more beautiful than a bee inside a sunflower? It just makes me smile.

While talking with Brooke yesterday the doorbell rang and this good looking guy was standing on the porch loaded down with all kinds of bags…it was Mike Burrell straight in from the mountains for a scheduled doctor appointment. Honey had sent me the cutest pottery flower vases…so creative…along with mountain apples and the juiciest tomatoes. The gifts went on and on…as only our Honey can do. It felt like Christmas….look at some of the fun things I got.

Don’t you love the flower turtle vases…how cute are they? And that tomato sandwich for supper last night was the best one I have had all summer! Thank you and love you forever Honey!

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So Many Daily Decisions…So Many Alternative Outcomes

Dear Reader:

“In mythology, the three Fates were goddesses who handed out destiny at birth, weaving a future that each mortal would be forced to live out inexorably—the concept of fate serving for many as a necessary explanation for the random cruelties, vicissitudes, and lucky breaks that determine so much of how life plays out. ( *That individuals might just blunder into these events for no reason at all was, for the ancient Greeks, just too bleak a thought.”– Resource: The Atlantic: “On 9/11, Luck Mean Everything”– Author Garrett M. Graff)

With so much going on before I left for Mt. Pleasant last week…I somehow managed to forget 9/11. When I got to Mandy’s and later saw all the stories on television…I was saddened I had forgotten. (Especially since Jackson had sent me this wonderful story from The Atlantic.)

So now I am re-tracking to share this story and relate it to our everyday lives and daily choices today.

In years of research and oral recorded personal histories/interviews  from survivors of 9/11 author Garrett Graff reached a startling conclusion:

Since 9/11… society seems more intent on trying to provide more and more control devices to be used in all kind of emergency situations…as if these new innovations will somehow keep the randomness of terrorism and death far away.

 

“Our  wired society today seems bent on proving a level of control over our daily circumstances that none of us actually possesses. We try so hard to downplay and outright ignore the role chance clearly plays in life, moving through it oblivious to the randomness of fate, controlling everything we can in the hopes that it will help with those things we can’t control.

At the same time, these regimens seem meant to rob us of the spontaneity that allows pleasure to seep in at unexpected moments—unnecessarily limiting what for all of us turns out to be a finite time in the world. As Sandy Dahl, the widow of the Flight 93 pilot, Jason Dahl, once said, “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short, and there is no time for hate.”

Is it worth it to live a life with so many controls over us…that we sacrifice the spontaneity of the unexpected joys and happy moments that randomly slip into our lives to brighten it and bring us sheer inexplicable pleasure?

Here is just one sample anecdote of the hundreds of stories Graff has collected over the years on the randomness of human daily decisions and their outcomes…especially dealing with 9/11.

“Joseph Lott, a sales representative for Compaq computers, survived one of the deadliest days in modern American history because he had a penchant for “art ties,” neckties featuring famous masterpieces. “It began many years earlier, in the ’90s,” he said in an oral history with StoryCorps.

“I love Impressionist paintings, and I use them as a way to make points with my kids. I’d put on an art tie, and then I would ask my kids—I have three daughters—I would say, ‘Artist identification?’ And they would have to tell me whether it was a van Gogh or a Monet, and we would have a little conversation about the artist.”

On the morning of September 11, 2001, he had put on a green shirt before meeting colleagues at the Marriott hotel sandwiched between the Twin Towers, in advance of speaking at a conference that day at the restaurant Windows on the World. Over breakfast, his co-worker Elaine Greenberg, who had been on vacation the week before in Massachusetts, presented him with a tie she’d spotted on her trip that featured a Monet.

“It was red and blue, primarily. I was very touched that she had done this,” Lott explained. “I said, ‘This is such a nice gesture. I think I am going to put this on and wear it as I speak.’ She said, ‘Well, not with that shirt. You’re not going to put on a red-and-blue tie with a green shirt.’”

So when breakfast was done, his colleagues headed up to Windows on the World, located on the 104th floor of the North Tower, and Lott went back to his hotel room to change shirts. He ironed a white one, put it on, and then headed back down toward the hotel lobby. “As I was waiting to go from the seventh floor back down to the lobby and over to the bank of elevators that would take me to the top, I felt a sudden movement in the building,” he recalled.

Lott would escape the World Trade Center complex that day. Elaine Myra Greenberg, 56, a New York financial consultant, a season-ticket holder to the Metropolitan Opera, the “cool aunt” to her nephews and nieces, would not.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

My first response to stories like these is as a reminder to live each day to the fullest…we can’t control the “fates” or “destiny” but we can have no regrets over how we spent our lives…We have to make the decision whether to spend our short-lived days worrying about what we can’t control or smiling at all God’s unexpected pleasures bestowed on us within the intervals.

This is the way we feel about Jake’s immediate health concerns…Jake was born with a slew of allergies that caused lots of problems as an infant and toddler…milk, eggs, and peanuts…to name a few. His immune system stays somewhat compromised and he spends more times with allergy break-outs than not… it seems sometimes.

Murphy’s Law…John left and Jake’s latest enemy…impetigo can roaring back…to the point that anything touching his back or stomach hurt…the creams to help dry it up hurt terribly when applied and he was covered from head to toe in these sores.

As if that wasn’t enough…he had recently been experiencing stomach cramps shortly after eating meals…and this ballooned over the weekend to the point that by Saturday morning he was throwing up everywhere. Thank goodness his regular doctor was on weekend call and said he suspected a blockage… an x-ray was ordered for Monday.

Obviously we were all apprehensive until the report came back that the blockage was, thank goodness, impacted fecal matter that wasn’t allowing passage of anything but liquid diarrhea…hopefully some doses of miralax will take care of that problem…and his impetigo sores are drying up fast. Whew! That was one miserable child over the weekend…but we are beyond happy at the outcomes.

It would have been easy to get caught up in all the ‘what-if’s’ but that is never productive on any level and prayers are a much better solution. Prayers won out! 🙂

In the meantime…Jake is beyond excited about his birthday this weekend and as far as he is concerned…hot wheels, dinosaurs, and balls of every sport fill his dreams nightly and daily…that is the way it should be. We can all learn more about facing life’s problems through our children.

And so until tomorrow…“Value each day of your life as if it were your last.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Like most children, in between bouts of stomach problems/ pain, allergy break-outs…Jake is a typical little boy who just wants to play. John came home one day early from his conference to take Jake for his x-ray yesterday. Everyone was so happy to have Daddy back home…including Tigger.

Wonderful news from Sis Kinney….

So, it’s all GOOD NEWS insofar as the cancer is concerned.  Dr. Dagher was able to surgically remove it and now we just undergo radiation for five weeks, followed by oral estrogen-blocking medication for a number of years – I think it’s five.  Everything is totally manageable and we’re very, very relieved.
I thank you for your continued and fervent prayers on my behalf and know that you’ll continue with them as we go into this next phase.

*And thank you dear blog readers/prayer participants…what a difference you are making in Sis’s life and so many others.

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Monday Morning Memories…

Dear Reader:

I am home. There were some unexpected twists and turns over the weekend…mostly dealing with little Jake…will catch you up tomorrow….just so glad I was there and could help out.

These days when I am called in to assist…I don’t think of my role in terms of being Grandmother Boo or babysitting…but in the role of Memory Maker. These opportunities to play with the children and help them get from A to B and back provide the memories that the grandchildren will look back on…I hope…fondly.

I am certainly happy to be home…back in my own bed…in my quiet house but on the flip side I will miss the time we had together…my favorite memories centering around bedtime stories.

It is Nancy Drew books now with Eva Cate and Jake loves funny, crazy books with funny messages. Our two favorites this time were:

I got Eva Cate to help me read these books at night to Jake…I would read the left page and Eva Cate the right- this met the requirement for her ten minutes read aloud-(“two birds with one stone”)…her reading is continuing to improve but the thing I am proudest of…is her ability to read vivaciously …more like a role in a play…acting out the characters. She is definitely a ‘drama queen.”

Isn’t  it strange how quickly we can adjust to a new routine in life…to the point that when we get home…suddenly the house seems larger and quieter than we remember. It takes me a few days to adjust being back home.

Except…I now have my memories. Today I plan to take a long nap, sort through my pictures smiling at the photos and remember we will all be together this weekend for Jake and Boo’s birthday weekend. Life is filled with joy and memories.

So until tomorrow…Don’t forget to become a memory-maker…it is our portal to immortality in the next generation’s memories.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the pooh

Below is a photo that should be labeled “The calm before the storm.” All smiles and the opportunity to ride the bus home on Friday…little did any of us know what lay ahead for the weekend…stay tuned tomorrow.

Mollie sent this adorable picture…she took Eloise to a “smoothie bar” after dropping the boys off at school one day last week…she thought it would be a special girl time. Mollie bought a large smoothie for her and Eloise to share…but the vise Eloise put on the cup implied implicitly she this was her smoothie…mom better go get another one….the message was in the eyes.

Clemson and Auburn tigers finally roared away from their respective competitions Saturday night..so the Dingle-Turner ‘house was not divided’ ..both sets of Tigers won.  🙂

 

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There are No Short-Cuts in Life

Dear Reader:

I always loved listening to Wayne Dryer’s talk and stories….he was a self-made man growing up in orphans and foster homes. He walked the walk in his life to find his true self, his calling… and then stopped to reach back and pull the rest of us along our own paths.

If I caught him on PBS I would stop, grab my quotes journal and get ready to add his thoughts and quotes to it…he was that good. I found this quote by him the other day when my journal fell off a book shelf.

“Each experience in your life was absolutely necessary in order to have gotten you to the next place, and the next place, up to this very moment.”

I remember one thought that has stayed with me since hearing it…In today’s society where competition appears to dominate our societal culture…causing stress and disorder…there is another road we can travel.

“We don’t have to be better than anyone else in this world…we just have to be better than than we used to be.

How many people go through life basing their idea of personal success or failure on how well they competed against someone else in business, wealth, or relationships….when the only competition that matters is how well we continuously grow inward and become a better person than we were the day before.

As I have said numerous times…cancer made me a better person. And it didn’t have to be cancer, per se,  it could have been anything…but when we are forced to confront our own mortality…we have two choices…pout and whine…playing the “Poor me…Why me” role seeking sympathy over all other things… or realize what an opportunity we have been given to changes ourselves for the better…to  appreciate life more and build our own deep well of gratitude for life.

So until tomorrow… “The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of the state of your mind.” Wayne Dryer

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

 

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” Stories Help Us Become More Whole…to be Named”

Dear Reader:

Stories really do name everything in our universe, don’t they?Without stories there would be no memories of names. Think about stories of ancestors and relatives who came before you….perhaps as a child you over-heard stories about crazy Aunt Minerva and all her comical antics like snorting so loudly she once drove off a herd of pigs… or Uncle Buck who sang off key so badly and so loudly that the desperate preacher finally bought him a homemade muffler to wear during church service…some saying resembling “Hannibal the Cannibal’s” face guard.

I have always loved Native-American stories for that exact reason… that naming humans, objects in nature and sky, merit rewards, animals…were all based on character traits which told about a person or thing just by their name. Naming was the most important sacred ceremony in their everyday culture and customs.

Stories and names are one and the same. There will be some colorful characters’ names that will stick with us in our memories long after childhood, youth, and adulthood. (How many times can you still say  Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo? It meant  (“The Most Wonderful Thing in the Whole Wide World”) and his poor little brother Chang whose name meant  (“Little or Nothing.”) 

Think about the number of times our names change in life…I started out Rebecca Lynn Barbour...which was shortened to Becky unless mother was really mad at me and then it was “Becky Lynn…you better get in this house right now!”  Later I married and I became Rebecca Barbour Dingle or just Becky Dingle...which I still am today…except when I am “Boo Boo” to my grandchildren…which actually got its origin in college when the Ya’s called me ‘Boo Boo’ because they said I reminded them of the ‘Boo Boo’  in the cartoon series Yogi the Bear and Boo Boo. (I was always running behind the rest of the group and always asking questions.)

These days I enjoy “Being” time more than ever…sitting on my deck lounge chair staring out in my garden sanctuary or in my “Happy Place” recliner…just thinking…about everything and nothing….about a comment, phone call, conversation, line or quote in a book, music, a piece of art…just “being” in the moment.

So until tomorrow…Find your creative zone and go there to just “be”….for everyone it is their happiest place ‘to be.’

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

 

 

 

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Summerville’s own Erma Bombeck…Jo!

Dear Reader:

The other day when we talked about a “life well loved” and how fitting that would be as a final compliment to anyone’s life…I was privy to one of Jo Dufford’s “Erma Bombeck’s” humorous perspectives on life. I decided this was the time to share it with all of you in case you missed the comment following the original blog post. It is too good to miss.

Jo’s wit and humor has been a part of her personality and ‘claim to fame’ since I first heard her name as a first-year teacher in Summerville. I was told if I liked storytelling in my classes…go see Jo. I did and my world was changed. Just listening to her teach and tell stories convinced me that this was the true path to learning. It never failed me for the thirty-something years I taught. Thank you Jo…my life-long mentor and friend.

Here is an excerpt from Jo’s comment to a “Life Well Loved.”

… “Just wanted to share a crazy little quirk: If I do something like freshen up a guest room or Colby’s room and it wasn’t on the list, I add it just so I can check it off. Now nobody cares about that list, but it makes me feel better that I really did do something today since many of the other things had no checks by them. Of course, I usually had time to work on the puzzle on the card table and work the crossword puzzle, but I only did those while I was resting.

Resting might be the wrong word, because that would indicate you had done something to make you tired. But as you said, life is all about love, and I love others every day, and I don’t need a list for that. One can pause to pray for someone you don’t even know who may be in need, or send a card, or visit someone who is sick. Those things happen spontaneously as people come to your mind. At the end of my life, all I would hope they say about me is your title, she lived a “Life well loved.”

So until tomorrow….“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me’.” Erma Bombeck

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Love my little flowers who never stop blooming…even in this terrific heat wave!

 

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