Another County Fair

I walked across the fair grounds, making my way back to Eliza’s booth. I was wearing my bracelets to declare the Endurance of Eliza, but couldn’t wait to cut the blue fair-pass band off on Saturday night.  It’s irritating, and I scrape myself with it from time to time.   It is a serious reminder of how horrible it was for darling Eliza to have tubes violating her all summer, and how miserable for all my family who had to wear bands to be admitted to PICU and The Ronald McDonald House.

I think of a few years back when I was astonished to see Marilyn at the fair, having survived her horrific ordeal with meningitis.  I thanked God again.

Robbie and I walked the grounds one afternoon just talking and reminiscing.  We both recalled our days of selling drinks at the band booth, trying to raise that all-important travel money.

We looked at the artwork sponsored by the club our Nana and Mama were charter members of.  And we looked at the sewing, and were glad Sheryl got a year off from judging… but hated it that her knee surgery threw her summer into such an ordeal.

Booth after booth we looked at the colorful ribbons on the entries, seeing names of cousin after cousin and friend after friend.

Church friends abound at all times… working the 4H concession stand window where we stop to buy iced tea… walking the buildings to take a break from all the work with the kids from the Children’s Home and their animals.  They’ll all be totally exhausted Sunday morning.

One night Jane and I just about cooked in the Merchants’ Building, and the next night a fun north wind blew in the first cold front of the season, and I sat there shivering.  The cold air stayed through the next morning where I sat with Mama watching beautiful Kyleah show her horse.

Sitting in Eliza’s booth I see friends and family strolling by, children in my family so excited about the atmosphere.  The grand anticipation of the season fills the air… the county fair leading into autumn and another school year.  My dad is usually across the aisle manning the Republican booth.

Tonight’s the last night.   Gary and I will two-step on the cement slab just like we did 35 years ago.  We will give away the thank you gifts from Eliza’s booth, and truly… our hearts will be full of gratitude to this community that means so much to us.

We All Love Eliza

This morning when I chose the shirt I would wear to church, I smiled because the bright colors matched so perfectly with Eliza’s bracelet beads.  I’ve worn the bracelet every day, and will until she comes home.  Many are doing the same.

When I stepped through the doors of the church building, a friend greeted me with a huge smile and said, “It’s so wonderful to see that baby girl smiling!”

As one of our elders opened our services with prayer, he thanked God “for Baby Eliza and how much she’s improving”.

After services, another friend held up her matching Eliza bracelet and, with happy tears in her eyes, told me how thrilling it was to watch the video of “our girl” playing with that beach ball.

To my cousins Jana and Burl, sweet Eliza’s parents, I want to thank you for sharing your story with everyone as we go through this trial.  I say “we”, because we are all in this with you.

The people I’ve mentioned didn’t know you before this happened.  They’ve never seen Eliza in real life.  But they love her with all their hearts.  They’ve prayed.  They’ve given money to help.  They watch Facebook closely for “Endurance of Eliza” updates.

How I long for the day when you are back home in your cozy house out in the country, cheerfully going about your anonymous life.   But life ebbs and flows.  There are times when we are thrust into the spotlight, and times when we can retreat.

Sharing Eliza’s battle with HUS has helped her.  The world is praying.  People are helping to pay those bills.  But just as beautifully, sharing the ordeal has helped all of us.  You’ve bound us together with love for your little darling.  You’ve increased our faith.  We’ve been given so many opportunities to praise God.  Thank you for this precious gift.

You can follow Eliza’s story at two sites:

Endurance of Eliza on Facebook

Endurance of Eliza dot com

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Endurance of Eliza

Darling little Eliza is still fighting with all her might in the ICU of Cook Children’s Hospital in Ft. Worth.  She has always stolen hearts!  Such a little beauty… sweetest smile… so busy with her yard work…

 

her crossword puzzles and fortune cookies…

 

her knitting…

 

My heart breaks to see her suffering… to see her parents suffering… her grandparents.

 

So many people are praying, sending love, sharing money to help with her medical bills.  As I write, she’s been in ICU for three solid weeks battling HUS.  I’m a cousin in this close-knit family drama, and I know that the concern of friends, our community, actually people all around the world – this is what sustains us all and helps the days remain bearable.

 

We’re wearing our ribbons made by Eliza’s cousins.  We’re wearing our bracelets.   They’re special reminders of this adorable two year old.

 

I invite you to get to know her better.  You’ll fall in love instantly!

If you do Facebook, this is her on-going page:

Endurance of Eliza

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No Facebook account?  Please go to her website, and definitely look at the “Photos of Eliza” page:

Endurance of Eliza

 ~

Her parents are right there by her side.  The medical bills are going to be unfathomable.  Jana is a stay-at-home mommy.  She’s enjoyed selling Mary Kay for a little extra spending money.  Well, I’m asking you to overwhelm her with orders.  Please, even if you don’t typically use this product… everyone could use a little lip balm… so click on over, purchase some for all your friends, and make sure you have your order shipped directly to your home.  This way Jana can stay at the hospital and take care of Eliza while her business grows.  This is her site:

Mary Kay through Jana Dodd

 

I’m longing for the day Eliza is not only out of ICU, but out of that hospital and back home laughing and playing.  I’ve said it from the beginning, and even when I’m choking back tears, I’m still saying it and believing… Filled with hope!

~

Eliza

My cousin is a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant.  The last time we spoke in person, she was over at my house to photograph her adorable little two year old, Eliza. It was the weekend before Father’s Day, and my cousin was doing a fun little photo shoot to surprise Eliza’s daddy.

I told her I was almost out of the primer I love, and to get me two more tubes.

And we laughed at Eliza playing with my cat.  And we squealed with delight at her adorable little antics while she pranced about holding her wooden letters that spelled DAD.

And I pulled out of my driveway to go to my mom’s house where another branch of the family was having a mini family reunion.  We ate and we laughed.

All of us just going about our summer days, living life, enjoying the moment, gearing up for what we’ll do in the days to come.

The next weekend I dashed over to my aunt’s house to celebrate another little “great cousin’s” birthday.  This five year old with curly hair was all smiles while the family chorus sang the birthday song at the top of our lungs in four part harmony.  We do love to sing that birthday song!

But little Eliza couldn’t be there.  She had been throwing up all night and was still very sick.  I remember saying “Bless her little heart”… couldn’t stand for her to be sick, but knew she’d surely be better before too long.

Eliza was in the ER later in the day.  By the next day she was in the ER in a larger hospital, and being admitted.  The following day she was on a jet headed to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Ft. Worth.  Her kidneys were failing.

There is no way to know how this precious baby contracted e coli.  Or why it developed into HUS – a term I don’t want to have to know about.

I don’t need any reminders to keep this girl on my heart and in my prayers.  Everything is a reminder.  Every waking thought is of our precious little Eliza.

Squeezing the pink tube of almost-empty Mary Kay.  Looking at my cat.  Knowing I need to start making ice cream for the family gathering next week… but knowing Eliza will still be in the hospital.  Facebook.  Crossword puzzles – oh my goodness, this baby loves to get out the pen, put on the glasses and do a crossword puzzle.

What can we do?  We can’t stop tragedy from coming to our doorstep.  We just can’t hold it back.  So we live every day to the fullest.  We treasure the photo shoots.  We sing the birthday song and eat ice cream.  We cherish the children.  We thank God for them.

Thank God for Eliza!  She’s such a sweetheart. Praying for you as you begin dialysis, dear little one.

~

Table for Two

From the silliness of The Purple Cow to the elegance of Pinnacle Grill…

From the early days at Tastee Freez to our current Dakota’s lunch dates…

From brunch in Dubai to coffee in Cusco…

From St. Thomas champagne cola to fried rice and finadene on Guam…

Here’s hoping the next 32 years will be just as delightful, dining with you at a table for two.

Happy Anniversary!

~

Silent

I have the right to remain silent.

It’s a phrase that just keeps finding its way into my thoughts.

Self-imposed guilt… it’s ridiculous.  It matters to no one but myself that I rarely add anything to my blog.  I have no grandiose idea that anyone is out there wondering why I’m not writing much lately.  It’s just my thing.

And when you do what you do, and then you can’t find the desire to do what you do… you feel guilty that you’re not doing what it is you “do”.  Anyway, that’s how it works for me.

But I’m swamped and overwhelmed lots of days.  A little bit tired.  There have been some hard knocks in this first half of 2015.  It’s one of those years that has me looking longingly at the calendar and hoping December gets here in a hurry.

So – all is well.  My yard is more beautiful than ever.  My cat still loves helping me with the roses while I protect her from the tormenting mockingbird.  My husband remains the sweetest man on the planet.

And I’m just taking a little break from some of my responsibilities.  I have to work really hard at giving myself permission to do that.  Maybe you do too.

It’s okay.  We have the right to remain calm and silent.

~

Look Sophie…

With her great-grandfather

While the final preparations for the Easter meal were completed, I was somehow awarded the delightful task of holding baby Sophie.  And so we sat there by the kitchen door watching the beautiful hubbub of the food being placed on the bar, while children were streaming back and forth from outside – everyone in eager anticipation of all that was still to come on this special Sunday.

Little Sophia lives hundreds of miles away, and since she recently turned one, this seemed her first holiday to truly be taking it all in… the enjoyable chaos of a huge family.

As the door opened and closed I would say to her, “There’s cousin Brock.”  “There’s cousin Eliza.”  “Here comes cousin Kallie.”  And this went on and on while she sat on my lap ever so calmly watching.

It was time for the prayer, and all the family members gathered in the kitchen forming a very large circle.   I stood up with my precious little great-niece and told her it was time to pray.  “Look Sophie… this is our family.”  And she and I looked around the room at forty beautiful faces of four generations.  I can’t speak for her, but I had a lovely lump in my throat.

~

One Very Special Week

This voyage had been in the back of my mind for years.  One day I would take my young niece on a cruise… just the two of us.  Daydreams come true when you keep them alive, and so this year, the day arrived.

On Christmas morning I surprised her with my plan, and we had six weeks to anticipate our vacation to the Caribbean.  I was looking forward to returning to St. Thomas where I taught middle school 25 years ago.  She was looking forward to visiting El Yunque Rain Forest of Puerto Rico – where she’d planned an imaginary trip for a Spanish class project.

Mostly, I was looking forward to a week alone with this wonderful girl who was days away from becoming a teenager.

On the last night of our cruise I wrote in my journal – “I don’t think the week could have been one ounce better. It has been a dream vacation all the way around.”

We laughed, we talked, we walked on powdered sugar sand beaches.  We took so many photos.

And these are the things I hope she’ll take away from that week on the Eurodam…

The world is a hectic place.  Always remember to reserve a little time for strolling.

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Gadgets are wonderful.  But they are no substitute for good conversation over a delicious meal.

Speaking of dinner conversation… some people are very good at it.  Strive to be one of them.

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Being constantly surrounded by polite people is a luxury.  Do everything possible to keep your world pleasant and kind.

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Beautiful relationships are more precious than rare jewels.  Take time to sit on the verandah and chat with those you love.

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Around the Clock

Rather than go through the stressful ordeal of adjusting a digital watch for Daylight Savings Time, I almost prefer leaving it alone – simply keeping in mind that the watch is an hour off for half the year.  This is why I no longer own a digital watch.

Oh, the sweet joy of pulling out the little button, an easy twist with the thumb, and pushing it back into place.  There you have it.  All set for a new time zone.

Last month I had the pleasure of spending a few days with my young niece while she adjusted to telling time using a watch with hands. No digital clocks in sight to use as crutches.

I realized that her generation would never think of giving the time as “ten ‘til seven”.  No, they read a screen and declare “six fifty-one”.  Top of the hour, half past, quarter ‘til… these phrases seem quite archaic to a crowd of people who never glance at a beautiful round clock face.

Wondering what to give a child for a birthday gift this year?  Let me suggest an old fashioned wrist watch.  As time goes by it will provide fun conversation around the clock.

~

And What Else?

They were here for the afternoon, my niece and my young cousin.  Sweet, beautiful girls… in only a matter of weeks they would both be turning 13.

I was at my desk doing what I do with business spreadsheets, and they were at the table, cutting and gluing, crafting little treasure boxes.

Since they were a captive audience, I forced them to listen to the music I love.  My niece asked if I ever listened to modern music, and I told them they just had to put up with my tunes.  As the classics began to unfold, their faces lit up every time they recognized a song from a movie they’d seen.  I assured them they’d be hearing “It Had to Be You” and “Fly Me to the Moon” for the rest of their lives.

When “Somewhere Beyond the Sea” came on, I told them how Gary and I always have to just stop working and dance when we hear this song.  How it makes us think of being on a cruise ship, and all our happy memories there.

And this began our sweet conversation with those girls asking me “What else?”

They were happy to listen to my little romantic stories that went along with the music.  The time he surprised me by purchasing and smuggling a dress I’d loved in a store all the way across the ocean so he could give it to me for Christmas.  “What else?”  Hmmmm… there’s the time I was curling my hair and the doorbell rang, and it was a guy from a car dealership with some keys in his hand, a sports car in the driveway, and a grin on his face telling me my husband had asked them to drop the car by so I could take it for a test drive.  (I drove the car… but declined the gift… being the ever-so-reasonable soul that I am! Ha!)  “What else?”

Honestly, I couldn’t keep coming up with grand romantic story upon grand romantic story.  And I was doing my best to let them know that the greatest moments of “What else?” are the tiny little things that wouldn’t sound very special to giggling girls.

But… young ladies of the world… these are the moments of a lovely romance…

A man who continues to notice any little thing you do – like hauling off the trash – and thanks you for doing so.

A man who brings you a cup of coffee, then sits there grinning when you get to the bottom of the delicious cup and discover the remains of melting M&Ms.

A man who irons his own shirts.

A man who sees to it that Santa Claus always puts tangerines in your Christmas stocking, even when you’re 51 years old.

A man who is just nice to you… every single day, every single moment.  Just nice.

Any guy can tell you that you’re beautiful.  He can spend every dime he makes buying you bracelets and rings.  He can open doors and show you a good time.  But don’t get caught up in a fantasy world of “What else?”  Don’t search for romance in big flashy events.

It’s great fun to get dressed up in velvet and black tie.  It’s a treat to get a gift of bling.  But my wish for all the sweet young girls in my life is that you’ll spend your lives with men who are genuinely kind and thoughtful, who will always treat you with respect while they shower you with love.

~

World at Her Fingertips

There we sat, four generations of family females, singing “High on a hill stood a lonely goat herd”, “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens”, and all the other marvelous lyrics from that musical.  The living room was alive with the sound of music.

I was explaining to my great-niece that the children’s mother had died, and that’s why the captain was wanting to marry the baroness or Maria.  She wanted to know the name of the mother.  I told her I didn’t know, and it’s never mentioned in the movie.  But she insisted on knowing.  I told her we’d look it up when I got home to my computer.  Still she insisted.  “You have your phone.  Look it up.”

And so I did.  Her name was Agathe.  We were able to proceed peacefully.

What astounds me is that the little inquisitor is four years old.  She realizes that anything she’d like to know can be found out by typing a few words onto that tiny little screen.

That has me singing a different tune.

I hear babies cry.  I watch them grow.  They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know.  And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

~

Just Doing My Job

A man who did some work with our company phoned a little while ago.  He wondered if I possibly kept all my old nontaxable transaction certificates because he was being audited and couldn’t find his copy.  When I told him I had all the certificates on file and I’d send him a copy he replied, “Thank God!  Because yours was the only one I couldn’t find!”

Organization is one of my favorite pastimes.  My niece has teased me that they’ll put “She loved her spreadsheets” on my tombstone.

Anyway… I got his document from 2011 e-mailed off to him, and I was just thinking how sweet it is when you’re simply doing your job, and someone thanks God for that.

Makes me think of one of my favorite passages from Colossians.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for men.”

Feeling very thankful to have a job I love.

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