Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Paying Forward

We got a new carpet this week. A crew of three came to rip up the old and put in the new. One was a female. The guys told me they love working with her because she works harder than 95% of the men on their crew. (No offense men, but that really isn’t surprising!)

She complimented the house and we ended up chatting. Found out she was struggling a bit. She lives in an apartment and is raising her granddaughter. Unfortunately, that usually means her child is either a drug addict or has a serious mental illness. I didn’t pry.

Turns out she could use some of the excess small tables I had that I was going to post and attempt to sell. I told her I would be happy to give her them which saves me the hassle of selling. She was very grateful but didn’t drive. Her boss picks her up every morning and takes her home and she didn’t want to put him out any further.

I went out to talk to “the boss.” I told him I was going to “bat my eyes” at him and he asked what it was I wanted. He had no problem taking the items for her. She was so thrilled. I mentioned that one of them had belonged to my dad. She saw a picture of him on the wall and said he looked kind. She also said she would say some prayers in his honor. It was a lovely and seemingly sincere moment.

She was hesitant to take it at first because of it belonging to him. I told her that keeping it would not bring him back, but it would make me happy to know that someone so kind and appreciative was using it.

It was a lovely day in spite of all the stress that house remodeling brings. For those of you that haven’t been here in a while, you should stop in and see the new bathroom and bedroom. Tim and I have made a great team and things are looking spiffy!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, especially those experiencing the loss of someone they care about. Holidays always seem to multiply the grief. 

And please share my post if you are able. Always trying to boost interest in these topics and hopefully expose my business. Love to all of you!


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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from Christiana, Tennessee.

Miracles do happen. The woman who works off her garage so she doesn’t have to drive has successfully driven 13 hours in two days to get to my sister’s house. Frankie and my niece Sara came with me. We were on the last few hours of the drive when we stopped to get gas and go through a drive-through at Burger King.

We were still in Indiana, but right on the border. I had gotten cut off driving several times that day so there was a lot of swearing coming out of my mouth, as well as comments about how dumb and thoughtless people are. I say politically incorrect things quite often at this stage in my life because my patience apparently got used up around age 46. A discussion about the South had come up. My traveling companions were both saying they were not impressed with the South in so many words. I was saying I love it down South. People seem much friendlier and polite. They were commenting on their accents and other stereotypes.

The drive-through line was very long so I had my niece jump out of the car to throw our bags of garbage in the trash. Next thing I know, this truck drives around me and cuts in line. I was like, “Oh no, you did-n’t” and Frankie quips with, “Yeah mom, people are so polite in the South.” The guy’s windows are open so Sara comes out with, “You know, there IS a line.” I drive up next to him and for some reason my mood snapped from irritation to playful. I put my fists up at the window and say, “Hey, you wanna fight for it?” He is flustered and says he thought my car had stalled or something. He said he had all day and I was more than welcome to drive up in front of him. I should have said, “So if you thought I was stalled you were going to drive by me rather than offer to help?” but instead I told him I was totally joking and that we had been in the car for days and it was fine that he went first. We kind of laughed and the moment was over. Or so we thought.

This is the point of the story when I was telling my other niece and she told me I was crazy. And lucky that guy didn’t have a gun in his truck.

We put our order in and then drove up to the window to pay, and the guy said in his cute Southern accent, “Y’all are all set. The guy ahead of you just paid for your lunch.” I couldn’t believe it. I beeped my horn and the guy in the truck waved. I waved back. He totally made my day. My week. I quipped back at Frankie, “HA! Southern people ARE polite!” I loved it.

This is also the point in the story where my other niece said, “You are supposed to pay it forward and pay for the person behind you.” And before age 46, I would have done that. But at 49, I didn’t even think about it. It was all about me. I reveled in it and was happy there are nice people out there and I was the recipient.

Tomorrow I am going to see my daughter Emily’s friends from Georgia. She is bringing her two daughters to come and see me. I thought of it when I said it was all about me. These three lovely women will boost my self-esteem enough to last for a month. They love me like crazy and it is so mutual. They say “yes ma’am” and they hug me constantly and tell me they love me over and over again. I am going to eat them up tomorrow. I just can’t wait. No patience required when I’m around them. I’ve always been a person with a very long line of critics in my life so these chicks that just unabashedly and unconditionally adore me are a breath of fresh air.

Even at 49 with a grumpy, menopausal mind, there is so much to be grateful for!


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Blizzard Bliss

I’ve been pretty cranky lately, just want to sleep and complain. I think it’s common these days with all the cold, snow and lack of sunshine. Then we get news of a coming blizzard. Great. Good things come in strange packages sometimes and this time God used a blizzard to knock some sense into me.

For those of you that read “Bitter and Sweet,” you may remember Ann, who wrote some journal entries for us when Tim was in the hospital. I also talked about going to Chicago to see her after Tim got diagnosed. Anyhow, Ann and her son were taking a trip from Indiana to Troy, NY (near Albany) for a robotics competition. We don’t get to see each other very often so we were trying to figure out a way to work in a Buffalo stop. The problem was, there were sixteen other teenagers and eleven other adults on this trip as well. I am just crazy enough to offer to fit 29 people in my house for an overnight if needed. However, the group decided to rent a full-sized bus instead which would enable them to drive straight through so the suggestion was dropped.

Fast forward to yesterday. Ann and I promised to talk a lot on the phone if we couldn’t see each other so we stayed in touch throughout the day. They were encountering terrible weather and had to stop a few times to keep the windshield wipers going. They witnessed thirteen semi’s and thirteen other vehicles off the side of the Thruway. It was getting scarier. (And what is with the number 13?)

Then my other friend told me that the Thruway was closed off just past Rochester. The blizzard conditions were supposed to continue for several more hours. Suddenly, the idea of them stopping in Buffalo was back on the table. Frankie heard me on the phone and was a bit panicked. Was I kidding? How would he have any peace in the house with that many people in here with us? I told him it probably wouldn’t happen, impolitely called him a “prince” and apologized for disturbing his world.

By 5:00 PM, the decision was made. They were coming! By this time, my mind had changed the number to seventeen people. Probably some sort of unconscious self-protection. Seventeen was crazy enough, so who would have agreed to 29? Well, only 27 of them were total strangers :). Those of you that know me, would know that of course I was crazy enough. In fact, I actually was excited.

I had 90 minutes to spring into action. First, I hit up Colin and Frankie. I asked Frankie if he preferred I find him a sleepover somewhere but he said he could handle it. Good boy! With no notice, they both pitched in. They shoveled the driveway (which they had already done earlier to no avail with the snowfall continuing). They also had to vacuum the entire house- all three floors. There was no way I would want anyone to sleep on those floors. Kudos to the boys for being good sports.

Next, I walk over to the neighbor’s house. I keep thinking that eventually they are just going to lock their doors when they see me coming. I feel like I am always wanting something. I explain the situation and they offer me several blankets, sleeping bags, pads, and a large blow up bed. Of course, I couldn’t figure out the blow up bed so he had to come over and do it for me. Thankfully, he needed to borrow my snow blower so at least we could exchange favors. Just neighbors being good neighbors.

Next, food. For 29 people. Ann loves Metzger’s Pub at the end of my street. She loves their beef on weck. They don’t have that in the mid-west. Half of the stuff in the neighborhood is closed due to the storm. So I drive there and go inside. I speak to the owner. I tell him a bus with 29 people is coming in an hour. Will they stay open and be able to feed them? Sure they will and sure they can! Great!

Next, breakfast food. The closest grocery store is closed. I drive to Aldi’s. It’s not very far away, but it is blizzard conditions on the road and I’m not even sure they will be open. I pull into the parking lot, and I see one of two Aldi’s employees outside. I find out later his name is Eric and he is shoveling some person out who has gotten themselves stuck in the parking lot. I offer to help and he says he will yell if he needs me to push.

I go in the store and try to figure out mentally what I need. Pop, chips and dip. That’s enough snacks. For breakfast, several boxes of cereal and milk. A box of pop tarts for good measure. Cinnamon rolls and a danish. Sausage and ingredients to make French toast. A case of water. We don’t drink coffee at my house, but I assume most adults do so I grab some of that. Orange juice is a good idea.

When I walked in, I had told the only other employee there what I was doing. We were chuckling about what a crazy thing it was to have happen. So I’m in her line and I ask her to think through the menu with me. I’ve done pretty good. Plenty of food, but not over the top.

Then it hits me. Aldi’s only takes cash. Shoot. Shoot, shoot, shoot. Only I probably didn’t say shoot. I am fourteen dollars short. They don’t take credit cards. They do take debit cards. I don’t have one. Oh, but the company does. I quickly run it through my head and think I can use it, but I just won’t mark off the expenses on the business. I scan the card and enter my PIN. It doesn’t work. There is no way I can run home and get back with more money with the roads being the way they were and the time crunch I was under. This young cashier says “That’s ok, I’ve got it covered.” She tells me she thinks it’s very cool that I am helping out a bus full of people and she wants in on the deal. I was shocked. And grateful. I told her I would bring her back the money but she wouldn’t tell me her name. I look at the shoveling machine and he tells me her name is Jackie. I told Jackie she made my heart warm and thanked her for reminding me that people are good.

I paid for my groceries and went to load the car. The next thing I know, Jackie and Eric have both come outside in the continuing blizzard weather to help me load my car. I could have cried. I told them it may be a weird gift, but the only thing I could offer was to give them both a copy of “Bitter and Sweet.” I explained quickly what it was about and that the message was about community and paying it forward and I thought they both embodied that sentiment. They actually seemed excited and impressed that I had written a book.

I drove away embarrassed by all the complaining I’ve done the last few weeks. I called Ann and told her what happened. I knew this was all meant to be. Her group promptly posted it. They had over 860 hits on their site yesterday with people following their trip. It started a lovely flurry of people thanking us for keeping their kids safe and warm and fed.

Up the bus came and they all unloaded into the house. The first woman off the bus asked me if I was an angel. I’ve never met such a great group of people. I kept asking the adults where the real teenagers were. These kids were not like teenagers are supposed to be. There was no attitude, no cockiness. Just super polite and very grateful young men and women who made me feel like gold.

We walked down to dinner where most of the staff had called in due to the weather. (Surprise!) One bartender, one waitress, one cook, and one assistant. Thirty people plus a handful of other customers. It took forever, but all those hungry and weary adults and teens had the best attitude. And do you know what that poor waitress said? She said she wanted me to know that she lived in her mother’s house and it wasn’t hers. But if she was the owner, she would be offering to take half the bus to help out. Another warm moment.

I still can’t figure out how the heck everyone slept here. But everyone did. We were up at 5:30 AM cooking breakfast and the bus pulled out at 7:15. I felt like I had a boatload of new friends. I was the one who got paid back a hundred fold. I sold five books too, which I haven’t done in ages. And they all promised to read the blog and post my book info all over their sites!

We got talking last night and one woman told me about her husband’s physical ailments and his inability to continue working. Their lives have been turned upside down. But she has a mission in life to promote positive community. People in their town try to share responsiblity across the board and help each other out.

One of the teen girls shared with me that her little brother has a tumor. He has had surgery already and is doing chemo. At her young age, she already gets it.

Please, please check out the group’s site. They say they have lots of pictures posted from their adventures here in Buffalo and the rest of their trip. Their site is: http://mcrobotics3936.com/ and their Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/mcrobotics3936. The facebook page has photos of them at our house and posts about their saga getting here. Check them out!

By the way, I went back to Aldi’s today. Eric was working but Jackie was not. I asked to speak to the manager and told her the whole story. Guess what? She wasn’t going to let me pay back the fourteen dollars! I insisted, but I gushed about her employees. She told me how to contact the corporate office, which I did. They were thrilled to hear some positive news!

Remember, there is much, much good in the world.

P.S. Everyone knows now not to ever mess with Ann or I. Obviously we are strongly connected to Mother Nature and She made sure we got together :)!