Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Christmas is a special time of year celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is also a time that brings families and friends together exchanging gifts, sharing wonderful meals, and just enjoying each othersí company. We often think of all we have to be thankful for on this day, but maybe we should try to appreciate the things we have all year long.
During the course of everyday living, it is easy to dwell on the things that are wrong in our lives. There is always something to worry about and whatever those worries are, they are often hard to put out of our minds and can tend to occupy the majority of our thoughts.
When Tommy was diagnosed with cancer, that was one of the worst days of my life. All seemed hopeless and I felt lost. I looked at all of the family members, and I saw those same feelings of shock and helplessness in everyone elseís eyes also. The pain was unbearable and I was scared for Tommy; I couldnít begin to imagine how he must feel. I wanted to take away his fears, but I couldnít. All I could do was be there for him. Those thoughts still creep into my mind on a regular basis, but I have learned so much from Tommy that it is becoming easier to drive away the negative thoughts. Of course, I still wish I could snap my fingers and Tommy would be cured forever, but since I canít, I can only trust God that there is a reason things are happening as they are.
I was cooking dinner the other night when Tommy made the remark, ďIíve always been lucky in life.Ē I paused for a moment as I tried to understand how he could consider himself lucky when he is battling pancreatic cancer. I didnít say anything to him, but continued working in the kitchen while trying to process this in my mind. It took some time, but then I began to realize that he was right. Despite his diagnosis, he has been lucky in life, and so have I.
What we are dealing with is part of life, just like the countless others we see every time we go to the cancer center. To us they are nameless faces, but to someone else they are the world. They are all someoneís family member, someone who is loved, someone who received the same diagnosis of cancer that left another family also feeling devastated and scared. Yet, they are all there, brave souls who are moving forward and fighting for their lives. Most importantly, they are living their lives. These people truly appreciate every day of life.
I thought about when we were told that Tommy probably had six months to a year to live, and then I smiled - he is now enjoying his fourth Christmas since his diagnosis, without being hooked up to a chemo pump. He has become the poster boy for the cancer center on how to live with pancreatic cancer. God is good and we are truly fortunate.
I started thinking about how lucky we both are to have such supportive family members in our lives. I thought about the last three years and the amazingly wonderful times we have had. Weíve made several trips to the southwest, several trips to Florida and to Myrtle Beach, and numerous trips to the mountains. Weíve gone hiking and bike riding, been out on boats, been to several races that he loves so much, and he has watched his grandchildren continue to grow. We spent his birthday in Andy Griffithís childhood home and we got to meet Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), a highlight for him. I could go on and on because there are so many things we have done, and I plan for us to do a lot more. My goal is to keep him encouraged and looking forward to his next adventure. We still have our bad days, but the good ones far outnumber the bad. And most importantly, we laugh, a lot. Despite his illness, we are continuing to live our lives with new hope for each day.
Last week, we received a Christmas gift from a family member that was almost unbelievable to us. Because of medical bills, we have both been driving older cars hoping that they would keep running. We received a gift of a car, the very kind that Tommy had been wanting to buy but we simply couldnít afford. We are both so excited, but thought and thought about how to repay someone for this. We walked around the stores trying to find the perfect gift for this person. We finally settled on a nice gift, but it still didnít seem like enough. We know she doesnít expect repayment; she doesnít even want others to know what she did for us. Itís just the type of person she is, always doing for others. So how do we repay someone for always being there when we need them? We canít. We can only say thank you so very much to her for all she has done. Yes, Tommy was right. We truly are lucky in life and we need to remember this every day.
Enjoy your day today with all of your loved ones; hug them and tell them you love them. Appreciate all that God has given you. Life is short, so we have to live and enjoy every day.
Merry Christmas my friends!
Our Honda Fit
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
We've been many times before, but it makes no difference. Every year we have to head to Tanglewood Park to drive through and enjoy the holiday lights display. It's tradition. Sometimes we even go more than once during the season.
Tonight we took Tommy's son Derek, daughter-in-law Sonya, and two grandchildren, Lindsay and Landon, with us. It was so much fun as we listened to Lindsay and Landon squeal with delight at the sight of Rudolph flying across the road above us and at the lighted Santa waving from the side of the road. Halfway through the drive, we stopped at the Big Red Barn where you can go inside and see all the local crafts for sale, and outside is the traditional big bonfire where you can roast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate or cappuccino.
So here's a little taste of the Festival of Lights that we look forward to every year!
The entrance to the park.
The Big Red Barn
Tommy clowning around and Lindsay eating her marshmallows at the bonfire.
I hope you all have the opportunity to enjoy some nice light displays, and seeing them through the eyes of a child makes them even more special.
Good Night my Spark Friends!
Sunday, December 09, 2012
I remember a few years ago when the seasons would change, I would put away my summer clothes and get out the winter ones. Yep, thatís what I used to do. Somewhere tucked away in a few boxes are some nice winter sweaters, shirts and pants (hopefully too big now), but I havenít bothered to get them out the last couple of years. Instead, I am wearing my summer clothes year round.
Why? Because I would have a meltdown during a hot flash if I was wearing heavy winter clothing. Oh my gosh, how long do hot flashes last? Itís going on three years now, so surely this will end soon. Each day I put on my summer clothes and then put on a light sweater. Then all day long itís sweater on, sweater off, sweater on . . . (You get the picture). They even make fun of me at work with my own little personal fan blowing on me. And I wonít even go into the constant cover on, cover off thing all night long while Iím attempting to get some sleep! I also fear a palace revolt at home as I listen to constant complaints about how cold it is in our house. Really? It feels pretty good to me!
I also have a ChapStick addiction and carry it with me all the time. I used to carry it in my pants pocket, but I canít do that anymore either. Did you know that hot flashes can actually cause it to begin to melt in your pocket? Never had that problem before the hot flashes. Now I have to leave it on my desk at work, and at home I have tubes strategically placed around my house for quick access! LOL.
Iím even beginning to feel guilty because we hear so much about global warming and Iím thinking I may be personally contributing to it. My apologies to you all.
Iím really hoping that someday soon I will be able to once again dress like everyone else. For now though, Iíll continue to pull my hair up off my neck, keep my fan handy and wear my summer clothes.
I hope you all have a great week!
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
I could complain about having to work all weekend every other week at my job, but I'm actually thankful for it. The great thing is that I also get a long weekend off every other week to make up for it. It's wonderful because it gives us time to plan mini weekend trips when we want to, and that's what we did this past weekend.
I'm so fortunate to have a wonderful aunt and uncle who are very good to us. They live in Florida, but they have a mountain home just north of Jefferson, North Carolina which is less than a two hour drive from our home. When they built it they gave me a key and told me we were welcome to go up and stay anytime we want to get away. So we got up Friday morning and headed for the mountains. Even the drive up there is beautiful.
The drive up takes us along some scenic back roads.
And past many of the Christmas tree farms (always busy this time of year).
Our destination up on top of the mountain!
After we arrived Tommy went to Shatley Springs (a popular country restaurant very close to their house) and picked us up a vegetable plate for dinner. I wish I could say it was a healthy meal, but at least it was vegetables.
Tommy then built a nice fire in the fireplace and his son Derek and wife Sonya joined us later that night.
Tommy in the living room talking to Derek and Sonya.
The next morning we all went to breakfast and then drove up to Damascus, Virginia. We went to Backbone Rock where we hiked up on top of the natural bridge that crosses the road. I was so proud of Tommy because there are a lot of stone steps leading to the top but he handled it like a trooper.
Sonya, Tommy and Derek on top of Backbone Rock.
After our short hike, we drove the five miles back into Damascus and then went for dinner at Quincey's where we had pizza and drinks while we waited for the Christmas parade that was supposed to start at 6:00. We finally headed out and found a spot along the road to watch the parade. I tried to take pictures, but had forgotten my good camera at the house and had to use my phone camera.
One of the floats in the parade.
This was a new twist! Santa showed up on a John Deere.
The next morning Derek and Sonya had to head home, but it was a beautiful day so Tommy and I drove up to Grayson Highlands. Afterward we drove back to West Jefferson for dinner and then back to the house.
Grayson Highlands in Virginia
Later that night we drove around and looked at some of the Christmas lights in the area. Back at the house, I went out on the deck to take some night pictures.
One of the decorated houses we really liked.
Looking down the driveway from the house.
Looking down toward the river at the houses below.
Then we had a surprise visitor show up at the house. A sweet little beagle came up onto the deck and we were playing with him. Tommy noticed he was not wearing a collar and thought he might be a stray. He actually asked me if I thought Thor would get along with him. But it didn't take long to realize this was no stray. When we brought him some treats out, he shook hands (or should I say hand and paw) with us each time for a treat. Nope, this was somebody's pet. We did enjoy his company for a while at least. Then when I told him it was time for him to go home, he promptly turned and headed down the dirt road toward the other houses. He was so sweet.
We don't know what his name is, but we enjoyed his company Sunday night and hope we see him the next time we go back.
What a fun weekend!
I hope everyone is having a great week.
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