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Family

An Unplanned Journey

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An Unplanned Journey

My husband Steven and I took an unplanned trip to our “old stompin’ ground” in Upstate New York at the beginning of this month. Steven’s father’s health had taken a turn for the worse, and he left this earth in the early morning of April 4. Steven and I journeyed to New York to be with his family, so the trip was bittersweet.

We packed up our van in the rain and drove to West Virginia to my niece Samantha’s house. It was nice seeing her, her husband, and her two little girls that I call my “redheaded fairies.” Those two are just so cute and lively you can’t help but smile when you see them. The following day we headed for Albany, NY, by way of Brook’s B-B-Q in Oneonta, a local favorite you can only get in that area (It’s a must for us whenever we go back to Upstate!). We completed the trip to Albany, (through more rain), and stopped by Steven’s mother Wanda’s place. His sister (Kristen) had arrived from California, so we were able to visit with them for a couple of hours before going on to our hotel.

The next day we found time to go to my brother Joel’s house to have lunch with him, his wife (Donna), and my nephew (Millard). Joel still lives on the property where my father lived as a boy and where my parents raised my siblings and me. All of the original buildings were built in the 1800s and are in rough shape, but it still feels like home. The people on our mountain speak a bit differently than most; I enjoyed being able to speak in the tone, lilt, and vocabulary that I grew up knowing. After lunch, Joel and I walked around the property, and I was able to collect a few relics to take home to North Carolina.

The next few days were spent with Steven’s family making plans. We settled on the obituary write up for the newspaper and a date for the burial ceremony during the summer. It is not uncommon for people in the north to wait for warmer months to bury remains; the frozen ground makes it almost impossible to dig a grave. Steven and I also took some time out to walk around a couple of thrift stores to debrief; sometimes you have to step away.

After several days, it was time for Steven and me to begin the trip back to North Carolina. We said our goodbyes to his family and left Albany. We decided to take a detour and drive past the house Steven grew up in. We were surprised by all of the very interesting changes made to the home and property: buildings were being constructed and several statues were placed on the grounds. A lot was going on; still, the house remained the original dark red color that we were both familiar with.

From there we drove past the country church where Steven and I were married. There it was, still looking the same. About 30 miles later we passed by SUNY Cobleskill, where Steven and I met, & smiled as we drove by. It's been nearly 40 years since we said, "hello" to each other there (and 36 since we said, "I do.")… I think it's gonna work out for us.

Then it was back to my family farm to pick up the relics I had collected. After a brief visit with Joel and Donna, we packed up the van and got back on the road. We spent the day traveling back to West Virginia, spent the night with Samantha’s family, then drove on to Lynchburg, VA to spend a couple of days with Genette (our oldest daughter) and her husband, Abe. Steven and I were glad we stopped there for a couple of days. We are now home again in North Carolina.

There are stories in all that we do; people in our lives, the journeys we take, and the choices we make. Then the day comes when we pass on and leave a space on this earth for someone else.

For now, this time belongs to you and me, so let’s LIVE!!

Dance, sing, go outside, visit friends, call someone, have a smoothie, pick strawberries, collect relics, jump in the water, splash in the rain, play with the redheaded fairies in your life… just don’t pass on without leaving a story behind.

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Family Celebration Time

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Family Celebration Time

This has been a crazy, crazy year! Family members have been in very serious, life-threatening situations. There has been chemo, surgeries, loss of jobs, medical emergencies, car accident, emergency birth…I won’t keep on going with that, although I could.

There have been challenges, but there have also been victories. I am hanging on to that.

In a couple of days, my family will gather together for our annual Turkey Treat Holiday. We will eat too much, laugh a lot, tell stories, play games, enjoy a craft festival and celebrate the fact that we are all able to gather together once again. It is gonna be a great time!

And then the day after the gathering is over; I will come back to face another challenge. That means there will be another story to tell and another victory to celebrate!!

Hang tough everybody!!

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Bryon, the Story Continues

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Bryon, the Story Continues

I wrote some earlier blogs about Bryon, our son, but to catch you up this is a recap of the story.

Bryon moved from North Carolina to California in the spring of 2015. In November 2015 Bryon was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had surgery in early December and was told that they had gotten it all and he would be fine. Life went on as normal for 2 years. Then in January of this year, he ended up in the emergency room with an excruciating gut ache and discovered that some rogue cells had made their way to his gut and had set up camp. It was aggressive and had grown to an inoperable size. Chemo began in February (check out my past blogs on that if you want to know more) and miserable just doesn’t do justice to describing it. Bryon held strong through it all!! I went to be with him through chemo in February. Then our youngest daughter, Carmen, went out for his 2nd round. Genette, our oldest daughter, went for his 3rd, and Steven, my husband for the 4th. 

Bryon’s girlfriend, Amber, could not have been more amazing and supportive through it all. Amber’s family stepped in and truly became part of our family by being a support system for our son. His friends and roommates in California also loved him through the chemo and the challenges it brought. Genette set up an online fundraiser and people from all over the country donated to help our boy with medical expenses. Many had never met Bryon and frankly, were only acquaintances to us. My storytelling friends, people from high school I’d not spoken to within 40 years, his friend's parents, my children’s friends all stepped in to help him pay for parking, copays, uber rides, food. The donations helped him through. ( Just an FYI, I sat down and figured out, in one-day cancer was costing roughly an additional $100 a day for Bryon. That does not include the airfare and expenses of the family traveling there. I never thought about that until it happened to our family.) My sister Kay, her daughter Samantha, and Genette put money and time into making #TeamBryon tee shirts for the family.  Emotional support and prayers were just as important as the financial help. People looked for updates I posted on Facebook and asked how he was doing. Many gave supportive nods and words of, “You’ve got this, Bryon”, “Hang in there”, “Praying for you”, “Thinking about you”. 

Chemo ended and Bryon began to grow his beard back, he pushed on through the fatigue, neuropathy, nausea, medication, expenses, and everything else that goes along with cancer. We waited for the chemo to pass out of his system for weeks so he could have a PET scan to determine the status of the tumor. His doctor went out of town so we waited longer.  Then we got the news … BRYON IS IN REMISSION!!! There are currently no active cancer cells in his body. Our son can now concentrate on healing. The neuropathy is tough (and his truck is falling apart) BUT he has a hope and a future.

Thank you all for your love, prayers, donations, kind words, hugs, well wishes, cards, care packages and so much more. Oh, my, gosh!!! How can I thank all of you for what you have done on behalf of my son and our family? You have blessed us beyond measure!

And so, the story continues.

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Chocolate Mug Cake and Homemade Ice Cream

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Chocolate Mug Cake and Homemade Ice Cream

When our kids were younger and still living at home we would make homemade ice cream on our birthdays. It was quite a big deal, buying the milk, cream, ice, and salt. I do love homemade ice cream. All of our kids now have their own homes so making ice cream in that big canister seldom happens anymore. 

I was thrift store shopping about a year ago and I found a countertop ice cream maker. It wasn’t expensive so I bought it. It seemed pretty easy to use, the entire bottom of the maker goes in the freezer and you take it out when you are ready to make ice cream.  We’ve never used it even though I had stored the bottom of the maker in my freezer. This past weekend I decided I wanted homemade ice cream and remembering that I had this countertop maker I decided it was a great time to try it out. 

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Eva Marie, a Gr-Animal Story

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Eva Marie, a Gr-Animal Story

We have a “Gr-Animal”. Our daughter Genette, and her husband Abe have adopted a dog. Her name is Eva Marie. Eva ended up with a middle name because Genette got annoyed with her one day and when she called her inside “Eva Marie” just slipped out. So now Eva has a middle name. Eva is a rescue and a mutt, sweet as can be, and is now being taught to come when called.  

Genette and Abe live in Virginia and when they come to visit they, of course, stay for a couple of days. Abe asked me if they could bring Eva with them when they came to visit. I told them it was fine but she would need to be kept on a leash when outside. We live in Charlotte and there is not only a leash law but the roads are quite busy here. Abe remembered that our backyard is fenced in on 3 sides, so he asked if it would be ok to fence in the 4th side so Eva could run around in the backyard. I told him that was fine but I wasn’t sure that we had much in the budget for that right now. He then offered a thought of building one out of recycled wood pallets. Well, I love to recycle and reuse so that was a perfect suggestion. Steven and I began to collect wood pallets.

This past weekend Genette, Abe, and Eva all came to the house and the building began. Under the fine direction of our son-in-law, a stack of wood pallets, some recycled hinges, a latch from a friend’s backyard, and less than $100 for additional supplies and tools; a fence with a double gate has been added to our landscape. I like it!! 

Sometime this Fall they will all be back and the second half of the fence, on the other side of the house will be built. One day I might even put it all together into a stage story!

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