Crossing Over

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

 I am not afraid to die!  Hopefully that time will come much much later in my life, but when that day comes I will welcome it.  Please don’t misconstrue my words, I am not depressed, nor do I want to die…. I just mean that I am not afraid to die.  When I first graduated from nursing school I worked in the nursing home a few blocks from home.  I was only going to stay until I could find a better job, possible one with weekends and holidays off?  Working in a nursing home if hard backbreaking work, but the trade-off is that you have the honor of caring for people, some  who are nearing the end of their lives.  My career there lasted for 11 years, and I was humbled to be in the presence of many who took their last breath and “crossed over.”  I always felt I did my best nursing when I was able to care for those who were about to embark on the beginning of their eternal life.  The life that they were prepared for, because they knew that this life was temporary, and the next life would be forever.  There would be no more pain, no more suffering, just a wonderful life beyond anything they had ever imagined.

  Over the years there have been those patients that just leave a mark on your heart, and leave a message that verifies what I know will happen when we pass on.  I went into one of my cherished patients room one evening to give her bedtime medications.  She took her medication, and I took care to be sure she was comfortable and tucked in for the night.  She was at a spry age of 93, and was still as sharp as a tack.  She had me sit at her bedside because she had something to tell me.  I was so busy, but I took the time to sit on the edge of the bed knowing she needed to share something important.  She took my hand and announced…”Honey, Tomorrow I am going to die!”  Just like that…as simple as telling me that she needed her pillow propped up.  I looked into her beautiful face and asked how she knew that, because she seemed to be in stable condition, even for her age.  She just smiled and squeezed my hand, and  told me that Jesus had visited her last night.  She said the room was filled with a bright light and He sat with her and told her that she would be standing before the  gates of heaven very soon.  I had chills, and started to tell her that perhaps she was dreaming?  She smiled at me and told me that this was the moment that people wait in earnest for, and she was ready.  I smiled at her and gave her a quick kiss on her forehead and wished her a good nights sleep, wondering if I would see my favorite lady when I returned to work in a few days.  When I returned to work, I learned that she had died in her sleep about 5am, the day after we had spoken.  I can’t tell you what that does to your psyche…I was raised as a Christian, but at the young age of 23, this was very foreign to me.

  About 5 years later I was caring for a man who was suffering horribly from bone cancer.  He would just cry when I would enter the room, and beg me not to move him.  I would quietly tell him that I was so sorry, but we needed to change his position in the bed to prevent pressure sores, and that we would try our best to make the move as painless as possible.  I knew that even the slightest movement caused excruciating pain, but it couldn’t be helped.  The CNA and I would plan the easiest way to turn him over before we started, using folded sheets placed under his torso that would help us cradle him while we repositioned him.  We would move as gently as we could and he would try to be strong, but always ended crying out in pain.  One afternoon his breathing became shallow, and his blood pressure was slowly going down.  His kidneys were not functioning at all, and the time was coming when he was going to leave us.  I called his son, who lived about an hour away, and I strongly suggested that he try to come as soon as possible.  He said he had some things to finish up, and then he would come.  We didn’t move him much that day, at that point comfort was the number one thought for me.  He kept asking for his son, and I kept telling him to hang on, he was coming.  His pulse and blood pressure continued to fall, and his breathing became labored.  He seemed to sleep peacefully for about an hour, then woke up and said “Shelly, thank you for calling my family to come to see me. It is so nice to see the room full of so many people.”  He was smiling from ear to ear, and the pain seemed to be gone.  I looked around the room and there was no one there but he and I.  I told him that his son should be arriving soon, try to hang in there because he wanted to see him.  At that moment he looked beyond me and seemed to survey the room, smiling and nodding his head as if saying hello, and then died.  His son arrived shortly after his death and I explained what had happened.  He said he wasn’t surprised, and was sure his mother was there to meet his father, as well has his whole family who had previously passed.  He said the exact thing had happened when his mother had passed away, and his dad told the story many times.  Perhaps his dad had told the story so many times that he truly felt there were people in the room, or the cancer had affected his brain, perhaps the adverse effects of the  pain medication, or maybe he was having delusions?  All I can tell you is that there was such a feeling of love and warmth in that room when he took his last breath that I will never fear crossing that bridge into the next chapter of my life ♥

PS: My intention with this blog is not depress any of my readers,  but I want my experiences to give some hope to those who have lost loved ones and are struggling.  I have experienced many of these moments and may write about some more of them at a later date.

A Party Without Balloons Please…..

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

 Yesterday my beautiful granddaughter turned one…yesterday her Nonnie had about 14 heart attacks at the party.  I left work early and drove 45 minutes home, picked up Maddie and then drove another 40 minutes to the party.  No problem…anything for the babies.  We joined the party, already in progress, and I found a spot amongst the people to wait for the birthday girl to finish her lunch so we could have cake.  The room was decorated with a pink tablecloth and there was a beautiful cake in the center and a little cake in the fridge for Lilly to “dig into.”  There were numerous kids of all ages running and playing, along with many adult conversations going on at the same time.  The party was a hit!  Until…………my ex-husbands new wife (who I am becoming fast friends with) went out to their car and walked in with 2 bunches of helium balloons.  I almost fainted in the spot!  Heres the scoop….this Nonnie is deathly afraid of balloons.  Yep, it’s silly, and rediculous…but that’s the way it has been for as long as I remember.  Of course only a few close family members know of my fear, so I tried to find a corner to fold myself into while the balloons were being uncovered.  Mary announced that she got them for a good price, so decided to get 2 dozen instead of 1.  Two dozen helium balloons……24 helium balloons….2 sets of 12 helium balloons….I was in hell!

Now, for those of you that fear things like spiders, mice, clowns, bats, etc….imagine someone coming into the room with a box full and letting them loose.  Horrible….So I stood crammed into my corner and watched in horror as Mary then divided the balloons among the kids at the party.  I could no longer keep one eye on each bunch of balloons, now there were multiple little bunches of balloons roaming all over the rooms, attached to what seems to be about 49 kids. My palms are sweating, my brow is sweating, and even my feet are sweating.  I am telling myself  “pull up your granny panties and act your age,” and had almost succeeded in calming myself down.  I am now at the threshold of my “happy place” when….BOOM…the first balloon bites the dust and explodes right next to my corner of the room.  I then do the first adult thing that came to my mind..I screamed like a girl.  I was had!  The jig was up!  My secret has now been painfully exposed.  UGH!  I really tried to make light of it, but honest to Pete, there were about a millions balloons passing all around me….There weren’t enough eyes in my head to keep track of them all. They were grazing the fluorescent lights, they were getting near the ceiling fan, they were being chewed on, and several gently eased past my shoulder as the children passed by my corner of the room. I wanted to say “Shooo little children with big huge balloons!”

  In the end, the balloons soon lost their charm and many drifted up to the ceiling to rest peacefully…except for the few infrequent BOOMS coming from the other rooms….I had survived my worst nightmare and lived to tell about it…I guess now I’ve told everybody ♥

Help Me, My Hearts Broken

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

TO THOSE GOING THROUGH A BREAKUP

 My heart is broken…..it’s hurting….I don’t know what to do……I don’t know what to say….my good friend is going through a break up and I don’t know what to do.  What are the right words to say, what can I do to ease her pain?  Not too long ago I was in her position, and my heart was broken in what I felt was a million tiny pieces?  You know that feeling when there seems to be darkness surrounding you, and no matter how hard you try you can’t stop crying.  Friends and family surround you and try to make you feel better.  You pull yourself out of bed day after day thinking “today will be the day that the sun will shine on my soul.”  You pray to God to give you peace, and to let some happiness return into your life.  It is the time in your life where you start questioning God, if He is in your life.  “Why did this happen to me?”  “Why can’t I find a happy relationship like those who seem to be all around me?”  “What could I have done to make him want to stay with me?” “How could he have done this to me?”  Of course these same questions go for both sexes after a break up, but the women appear to suffer more.

After taking 2 years to recover (almost fully), I feel I am almost an expert at what to say to my friend, but she is not at a point to hear my words.  This is the point where we just need to sit and listen and let her talk.  Sometimes a person just needs to talk it out without anyone judging or adding unneeded advice.  I had such a wonderful support system that I knew I was going to be ok.   At some point she will realize that God does have a grand plan, and that this heartbreak will at some point pass and there will be someone even better put into her life.  Eventually the pain will subside and the light will again shine on her soul and her heart will begin healing.  That person who has hurt her so badly will begin to fade from her memory and she will begin to forget the pain, while remembering the good times without sadness.  Slowly that heavy weight that is pressing down on her chest will begin easing up and the smiles will come easier.    Those around her will still love her, and the day will come when Gods true plan will be revealed.  At that point we who have been hurt to our core will be able to realize that those heartbreaks were just a stepping stone to something much better.  So my friend, I am here if at any time you just need to talk.  Please realize that you deserve better, even though you may not realize it yet.  If a person disrespects you, then they need to “push on” down the road.  They are simply not worth it, and deserve no place in your life.  I had to learn to just sit quietly and do nothing….just sit quietly.  It is amazing what that does for you, because you are able to sort so many things out and put them in order.  I will admit that I went to counseling for 6 weeks after my breakup because I just couldn’t make sense of anything.  In 6 short weeks the wonderful counselor I saw was able to put things in order for me.  One of  the best thing she recommended was for me to listen to “Letting Go” by Joe Cocker.  Yes, my friend, the time will come for “letting go,” and when that time comes the sun will shine again.  Moving on can indeed be a good thing, I promise!   I love you my friend ♥

Talkin Turkey

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

  Yep, you guessed it…a month from now will be Turkey Day!  There are a few days of the year that will give me the “warm fuzzies” and Thanksgiving is one of them.  I have such wonderful memories of Thanksgiving with our extended family as a child, and then with our immediate family as we grew and added new members.  I remember that mom would get up at 2:30 in the morning to put the turkey in the oven so we could eat at noon.  This was after it spent the previous day thawing out in the kitchen sink.  If I close my eyes and let my mind wander I can still smell that wonderful odor that would greet us on Thanksgiving morning. There were also 2 large baking sheets loaded with bread, drying out for the stuffing, which mom would then make and stuff that turkey from stem to stern.  I am not a fan of stuffing, but love the smell of it in the oven.

After my parents passed away, the sisters and I divided up the 3 big holidays so we could continue the tradition of getting together to share a meal.  Tammy has Thanksgiving and my kids were pleased to discover that my brother-in-law Mark makes just about the best stuffing ever!  I love walking into her house with my covered dishes and indulge in the memory evoking smells of turkey and dressing.  Almost makes me tear up just writing about it.  ANYWAY…….one year my mom decided that it was very sad to think of anyone being alone on Thanksgiving, and decided that we would host a free turkey dinner on Thanksgiving in the church basement.  Everyone was welcome to come and eat with us, and we would take deliveries out to those who were homebound.   We cooked for 2 days, I swear….and I don’t know when I have ever peeled that many potatoes in my life.  We had turkey, dressing, potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, rolls and homemade pumpkin pie with whipped topping.  We set up the tables in the basement complete with tablecloths, china and silverware…not paper plates and plastic utensils.  One person manned the phone, taking down orders and addresses for delivery, the men delivered the meals, one person welcomed the guests, and the rest of us divided our time between serving the food, cleaning up the mess, washing dishes and doing whatever else was needed.  When we felt we had served everyone that was coming, we filled our plates and sat down with our guests as a family, resting our weary hands and feet.  It was such a wonderful feeling to know that on that holiday no one had to eat alone if they chose to come to the church.

 A few years ago, I decided to roast a turkey for the first time.  It was always my moms job, then my sisters job, and then my ex-husbands job (he liked to deep fry the turkeys) so I have never had to make the turkey.  I read up on how to safely thaw a turkey on the Butterball website and my adventure began.  I purchased a roasting bag because that is the was I saw Mark do it, and then I laid everything out on the counter in preparation for the mission.  I remembered that mom always had a retrieved a bag with the gizzard, liver and the gross looking neck bone, so my first job was to find these loose turkey pieces before I baked the bird.  My daughter Katelyn and I had the darndest time getting ahold of the neck bone…..I knew it had to be somewhere, so I yanked and yanked on the spine of that bird, but I could not get ahold of anything that resembled a neck bone. I was so frustrated…I knew there was a neck bone, but it wouldn’t come off.  I began chopping on the spine, and was still unable to dislodge a neck bone.  I sat that dumb thing up in the sink and was spent even more time trying to figure out how to get that neck bone.   I was finally so upset and angry with myself that I picked the turkey up and shook it in anger…and guess what happened?  That small baggie containing the liver, gizzard and blasted neck fell out of the bottom of that blasted bird.  No where on the Butterball website did I remember that they were going to be perfectly packaged for soup making.  Who would have guessed that they just shoved it there?  We just stood there laughing hysterically at my mistake, and laughed even more when I looked at the poor butchered spine of the bird…..Not my finest  moment for sure ,  but the turkey was still delicious ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

Funeral Potatoes

(I may have already done this, and if so I apologize.  It’s just a great dish to pass at a feast)

5 pounds of red potatoes, peeled and cooked

8 oz cream cheese

8oz sour cream

1 stick of butter or oleo

Chives, diced * add any amount, depends on your taste

In a large mixing bowl, whip cooked potatoes, cream cheese, sour cream and chives.

Spread in a 13×9 baking dish and dot top with butter sliced into small pieces

(I usually just pinch some off with my fingers and place all over the top of the casserole)

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until warmed through.