Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Memories Are Tiny Bits of Reality...

"Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth."
                                                                ~Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
I can smell the day after graduation.  Late spring in Oklahoma.  Friends, laughter, plans for fall...but let's not move away to quickly...
1971.  High school graduation.  This year - the 40th class reunion.  I was unable to attend, but our class pulled out all the stops.  A web page was set up.  Photos were posted.  A site was opened to send notes and memories to one another.  Another page to post "the where I've been and what I'm doing now" posts.   The turning around...the looking back...life in the present. Colleges attended, marriages, children, grandchildren and moves made in these passing years.  I not only was part of the Broken Arrow reunion - but was able to look 'way back' through the 40th class reunion where I started school in Newton, Kansas.  Though our family moved away in 1967, it will always be home to me.  How fun to hear from friends from elementary/jr. high.  I cannot name every one's name.  But I do want to thank you for coming into my life, for reconnecting and for dropping by occasionally.  It's wonderful to know you are still out there : )
Today, however, there is one person I will call by name.  Carolyn Cundiff.  Beautiful girl, the right kind of 'cool' blond, infectious laughter and perfect mutterings under her breath, bring on gales of laughter.  Thank you for the beautiful CD.  How beautiful.  Across the miles, through your gardens and ranch and greenhouse - thank you for your thoughtfulness.  I must come for canning lessons.  Carolyn's canned fruits and vegetables are not only beautiful, but make my mouth water
A while back, brother in law, Jack, sent a photo of Frank's Drive-In.  I can taste the hamburgers, the fries and a "Ripper" (forgot the ingredients however).  I can see Frank standing at the window, taking orders.  Dragging Main Street in small town America.  During the gas wars, gas dropped to 19 cents a gallon for a moment. 
 Radios blaring, everyone talking at once, checking out who was with who (can you believe so and so are dating?!)  Sitting on the car at the Tastee Freeze, turning around at the old bowling alley...street races in a 56/57 Chevy.  Papering yards, summer nights.  We didn't know about "drama" back then, but there was plenty of tears and laughter and note passing. 
One night, I was out with Alisha, I think.  We were dragging main and pulled into the Tastee Freeze.  I just got situated on the trunk of someone's car...my dad pulled in.  What is HE doing here!??  He pulled up and opened the door on 'my side' and said quietly but in that voice we all knew so well --- 'get in the car'.  He believed it was "uncomely" for a girl to be sitting on the back of a car, barefoot.  I do not recall any words being exchanged.  Just that silence that stood between a 16 or 17 year old girl and her dad. 
I don't know why my brain operates like it does.  Some people have a mind for numbers and science.  Others for memorizing great passages from books or know every line from many movies.  My brain: Music.  Everything is connected to music. Rock and roll music from the late 50s through the 80s. (do not ask me about 'music' today.  i'm clueless). 
Sewn into the beat and lyrics of those songs are connected to seasons, to smells in the air - the undercurrent.  What we were eating or doing or where we were going. Name someone, I can hear their laughter and see the sparkle in their eyes.
 I retain random details like people remember baseball statistics.   People, time, place.  Of what value are these things in my mind?  In your mind? 
Every moment remembered relates to the present.  Friendships.  No matter the years that separate us; no matter the length of friendship; no matter the places we've lived.  The constant: People are so very important.  Yes.  Priceless.
  God gave us a wonderful gift as it relates to memories.  Good, bad, delightful, miserable - they have made us who we are. 
Thank you Father God for our friends and family.  For our brains; our minds.   For this present moment and for memories of the 'days gone by'. 
love kathryn

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Mexico winds.  They either sneak in on a breeze or burst upon us like a scene out of an old gangster movie.  The weapon of choice; harsh winds - blasting us with dirt, sand, enormous tumbleweeds flying through the air or rolling down the streets.  I now understand why pioneer women, living in dugouts went "mad from the winds". 
 Recovery from sickness is much the same as cleaning up from a storm.  You've been shoved around, blasted with drugs, tossed from pillar to post. Slowly, you start moving.  You feel your strength return.  Like cleaning up from a storm, one day the clean up is finished.  Out with the old, in with the new.
 Jesus came to earth on a breeze.  His birth was announced from the heavens.  Years passed.  Then
John the Baptist kicked up the breeze and stirred up the sand.  Jesus came asking to be baptized of John.  Winds changed direction.  Like the seasons across time, everyone who encountered Jesus, was never the same. His words, also carried on the winds, filled those dry, empty places in  their hearts. They were used to windstorms and eating sand. They were not used to chewing on words of Life.  Regardless of time of year they heard his voice, it was spring in their hearts.
We're experiencing spring in our hearts as well.  Jim is feeling much better.  Slowly, my strength is returning.
Though no one can explain this entire event, I was dead well over 6 hours. My body temperature was below 26 degrees Celsius; my  organs were shutting down. I had no muscle tone and did not respond to pain they 'inflicted'.  I asked my first doctor later, did my heart stop beating?  The answer is yes. My neurologist explained to Jim, Bill, Donna and Peggy,  I would not recover.  The Dr's believed I had about two days left and that would be controlled by a ventilator, warming blankets and medication.  They wanted my family to be able to see and speak to me for the last time on this side of heaven.
   Though the miraculous power of God,  I came back.  I started breathing on my own  No more ventilator.  I talked, I fought,  I got up from my bed.  Jim said I asked for my clothes.  : )  I realize this is hard to comprehend.  I cannot comprehend it myself.  I've listened to stories.  I have no  memories until Thursday of that week.  Even those memories are not fully intact. 
I am altered physically but not in anyway that you would recognize. 
I am altered in other ways.  That is a slower process.
More than anything....I know how I felt this morning.   I woke up early enough to see the sunrise break over the Sandia's.  As Kristin read the other day..."God goes before us into this new day...he already knows every moment."  Such a promise.  I trust those words...because they are words of Life.  Whether alive in this body or not. 
I still do not care much for wind...but it has a great and mighty purpose.  The Holy Spirit came in a whirlwind - a mighty wind.  Listen.  The winds may be bringing words of life to you today.
I lift my glass of orange juice, saying aloud - To Life! And to God be the Glory.
love kathryn

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Declare The Good News!

Phil Parker fresh off of a 24 hour flight from Afghanistan.
 Kathryn.  Splash down! after re-entry
Photo taken either Thursday or Friday (2/16 of 17, 2012). 
It has been 5 months since I've been here.  Jim and I both have had some delightful days.  We have also had some frightening, difficult & sad days. 
Coco, our 8 year old miniature dachshund.  My protector, my charge nurse, my ever present Velcro friend died of lymphoma. She stole my heart.  I miss her still. 
We went to Teresa and Dan's for Thanksgiving last fall.  We found this little bit of stuff in Joshua TX.  The runt of a litter.  She is presently falling on her back like a brown bear, paws pointing to the heavens.  She loves taking showers.  As soon as she sits on my lap, she falls sound asleep.  Is she a narcoleptic? Lindy Rose Hopper. She is a spitfire and fills the days with laughter.  Our house is still being filled  with an odd assortment of twigs, grass, and dirt.  She and Scout like the same things.
Scattered details of last fall/winter.  Jim became very sick the first night of vacation in Colorado. He did not pass go or collect $200.  He went straight to the hospital. After a speedy release, we returned to ABQ and Presbyterian Hospital (why they do not call us and have our family do a commercial for them is puzzling...).  Diagnosis:  a huge DVT in his thigh (no signs or indicators of this large invader) AND not one but two ulcers. Jim went through month's of testing.  The final diagnosis: a damaged suborbital nerve.  He's had several nerve block shots in his head.  After months of blood thinners and a lot of spinach and broccoli, we pray this the Doppler will show the DVT has dissolved. (the test is in May). Jim has dealt with intense pain and fatigue.  He looking and feeling some better.  Our hearts have gone out to 'little old people' who are both ill at the same time.  You don't have to be little or old. Illnesses come like the March winds.  When and where they want.
First photo/a little more information.  Phil received a message at 3am from the Red Cross.  It stated my death was imminent.  He needed to get back to the States immediately.  His Commanding Officer told him to get packed and found a seat for him.  (Thank you sir).
  Phil served our country in Kandahar, Afghanistan,  doing what he does best. He is a nurse. Though I am family, he also took care of me while he was here (a tall order).
When we Skped in November, I asked him to please come to Albuquerque.  Nope.  He was arriving stateside;  out processing and going home to his family in Seattle.  The Lord liked my idea.  Not only did he come to Albuquerque, but his wife (my sister in law) met him here.  AND he arrived home two weeks early.  My entire family, my brother in law, friends from Texas & AZ and numerous friends  here embraced one another.  Friends and family who could not be here, embraced us as well. They stood in the gap and prayed powerful words. 
The doctors assure me I did in fact die, but I am back.  My neurologist said to Jim.  "She is a miracle".  I've read all of my doctor's notes.  Though I started moving in the wee small hours of Tuesday morning, I have no memories of that time.   Though I've heard I was talking, moving and even sitting up, I recall nothing of the first 3 l/2 days.  Dorothy ("Wizard of Oz") and I woke up in a similar fashion.  Both of us found familiar and dear people talking & staring at us.  Being from Kansas it just seemed appropriate to point this out.
I like to read The Divine Hours (Phyllis Tickle).  Last week I turned back to February 13th.  I'll share a few readings.  While Jim was doing chest compressions on me, these verses and many fervent prayers were being said that day.
"Be strong and take courage, all you who wait for the Lord." Ps 31:24
"You strengthen me more and more, you enfold and comfort me." Ps. 71: 21
..."our eyes look to the Lord Our God, until he shows us mercy." Ps. 123:3b
"Into your hands I commend my Spirit, for you have redeemed me Lord God."
"O Lord My God, how great your wonders and plans for us! I will shout for joy!"
The hymn for the evening was "Now The Day Is Over".  I read through the words of this beloved hymn.  Memories of this Sunday evening closing hymn are particularly poignant.  Chuck's beautiful tenor voice still echos across the years.  Though I do not recall singing this particular verse as a child; angels did most certainly attend me through the days and nights.
"Through the long night watches may your angels spread, their wings above me,
 watching round my bed."
From Ps 40
"How great are your wonders and plans for us, there is none who can be compared to you.  O! that I could make them known...but they are more than I can count!"

Thank you for flowers, plants, cards, numberless prayers, calls,
trips made here,  Love Overflowing. It is great to be back.