Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Memories of my Memaw

      Today I drove to Charlotte to take some cake decorating tools to Andrew at college.  It was a pretty drive with lots of white and pink trees in bloom along the highway,(AAHH_CHOOO!)  But occasionally I would catch a glimpse of a purple Wisteria -- my favorite.  Every time I see one, it reminds me of the Wisteria in my Memaw Frazier's yard.  Memaw has been gone for nearly 50 years, but I had a couple hours to think about her as I drove, and I realized that I have talked a lot about Grandan to my kids -- he was still living when the girls were little, but Memaw died while I was in college and I really haven't told them much about her.
      She was the oldest daughter in her family -- she had about 10 younger brothers before the only other girl was born, and she had a pretty hard childhood, helping raise all those boys.  Then she married Grandan and had 5 children of her own -- the 4th one was my mother.
       I was her oldest granddaughter, and we lived close to her, so I probably have more memories that the rest of the grandchildren.  Memories of muffins and cookies and feasts at her house. Memories of her coat with the fur collar that she wore to church -- Grandan teased her and said it was mouse fur.
      I remember her pet groundhog, "Chuckie" who lived under the house.  My mother caught him one day on the way home from church, and gave him to Memaw. She tamed him and he would crawl up on her lap and around her neck.

Memories of her working in the garden wearing this sunbonnet.

The Bible she gave to me when I was 11 years old, after I was saved and baptized.

I carried it with my bouquet on top when I got married.

When I turned 18, she gave me this gold pin as an heirloom to give to my oldest granddaughter when she turned 18.  It was made from a $10. gold piece that was in her dad's pocket when he died.  But since I have no granddaughter, I get to keep it a while longer!

          She said she wanted me to have her good dishes, so Grandan gave them to me after she died.  I really don't know how she managed to have all these pretty dishes -- none even chipped or cracked -- or where she got them.  And there is no one left to ask.
           Memaw started showing signs of memory problems when I was in high school.  I remember Grandan calling Mother late one night because Memaw didn't recognize him and was upset at the strange man in her bedroom.  It gradually got worse, and  Grandan had to put a lock on the inside of the door because she was always trying to "go home" even though she had lived in that house for about 25 years.  She would say,"That old man (my grandan) won't let me go home and my daddy is going to be mad at me!"  Soon we had to have someone -- usually my younger brothers-- stay with her all the time that Grandan needed to go somewhere. It was so sad -- every time we told her that her parents were dead and she couldn't go home, it was like the first time she heard it.

Grandan was thrown from a horse when he was in his seventies -- what a man!! -- and I went to live with him after college.  One day I was snooping around -- as usual -- and imagine my surprise when I saw this written in this old book!

   It is full of recipes and poultices and cures for everything from a cold to Gonorrhea -- I don't plan to ever use that one!!  Written in 1887 and such a treasure!

        While I was living with Grandan, I often used Memaw's wooden spoon -- it was perfect for stirring, and I told Grandan how much I liked using it.  When I got married, he wrapped it up with newspaper and a rubber band and gave it to me.  Another treasure.
         I am grateful for my memories -- isn't God good to bring someone to mind after all these years?  Memaw went to Heaven such a long time ago -- next week will be 48 years.  But as I look around my house, I feel blessed to have all these things that spark memories of my sweet Memaw  and her beautiful Wisteria bush.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lots of good news and a little bad

        As all my Facebook friends know, I have been dealing with some thyroid issues for a while.  I feel perfectly fine -- excellent, in fact.  But I still have to go for check-ups in Winston-Salem ever since I had thyroid cancer 18 years ago.  Two years ago, I had a recurrence of thyroid cancer in a lymph node in my chest.  How in the world it got there I do not know -- after 16 years of good reports.  So, after a biopsy, I had a massive dose of radioactive iodine to kill it.  All seemed good -- the thyroglobulin (tumor marker) number went way down from 180 to 5 and I thought all would be happily ever after.  But this year the number started creeping up again -- 10 then 26 then 39 -- and it is supposed to be less than 1. So we started the process again -- stop taking my thyroid replacement medicine, go on a low iodine diet -- no dairy, no restaurant food, nothing from the ocean, etc etc.  Mostly ate egg whites, unsalted nuts, cauliflower soup and oatmeal. Yum.  A few days before the scan date, I found out that I could eat oreos, so that changed my attitude a lot!

       My scans were scheduled for this week, I took a tracer dose of radioactive iodine and they scanned everything and found nothing.    
Good and bad news -- good nothing was there, but bad that they didn't find where it was hiding.  So today I went for more scans -- they shot radioactive sugar in my vein for the PET scan and wow! Getting my sugar fix was never like that!! Then they did a ct scan, so I have spent a LOT of time strapped onto a bed with machines taking pictures of me.  And here is the little bit of good and bad news.  Bad is that they found cancer again in the same spot.  Evidently the zap 2 years ago did not completely kill the thyroid cancer, and it has once again started simmering in there. The good news and maybe bad, too -- is that the dr decided not to give me the radioactive iodine again because it did not completely do the trick last time -- and it messes with my salivary glands so I I don't have enough spit these days. (Good news -- I don't drool on my pillow)
       So, since my dr, who TEACHES endocrinology at the medical school, has not seen anything like this before -- I am special!! -- he will make an appointment with a surgeon to see if he wants to biopsy it or try to pluck it out or shoot radiation at it -- or somehow get rid of it.
      Good news -- I can eat whatever I want and don't have to stay away from people or wipe everything down with Lysol.  AND I get to go to church for Easter!! And there is a praline in the freezer with my name on it.! I already stopped at MacDonald's and got a big ol milkshake on the way home.
      But here are the Godwink parts of this.

  • While we were in Florida last month, our cousin Terri gave me a CD with a song called "God is On Your Side" that has been a perfect song for this time.  The words say "You can make it.  Don't quit.  God can handle it. He's on your side." I've been listening to it all month, but it was REAL good as I drove home today.
  • A couple months ago when Sara started her diet, I ordered her a bracelet that said "I will never give up"  It didn't come for a long time, so the company sent another -- then the first one came, too, and they said just keep it.  So I will be wearing it.     
  • I was listening to a sermon by my nephew-in-law, Zach Maddox this week, and he was encouraging church people to share their concerns, and not just keep it to yourself.  So Facebook has been full of an army of prayer warriors.  And my choir.  And my church.  and my chorus. And my school friends. As I was trying to lie still on that cold little table during all those scans, it was a great comfort to know how many people were praying for me.
  • As I was driving home, I was hoping to see my music minister and friend, Jimmy P. but it was 4:30 when I drove through Granite Falls.  I decided to take a chance -- and there was his truck, all alone in the parking lot.  He normally would have left at 2:30, but today he had some things to do and was still there.  I wanted to tell him the news that I would be in the choir Sunday -- no radiocactive iodine -- and also tell him the not so good news.  He is such a comfort -- he prayed for me right there and I left feeling a great peace.                                                                      So, my dr and I are highly optimistic that this thing can be taken care of. I AM NOT WORRIED!!  There will be more tests and doctor visits, but it is just an inconvenience -- the cancer is obviously not very aggressive since it has been stewing for 2 years and it took a ton of scans to even find it. But I thank everyone for praying -- no sad faces -- it will NOT kill me!!             Lets celebrate Easter -- He is alive!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Purple Heart

         Forty -eight years ago today, March 16, 1968, while I was enjoying life as sophomore at West Virginia University, my future husband was lying wounded in Viet Nam, waiting for morning so a helicopter could medivac him to a hospital and safety.  He and about 90 other paratroopers had been dropped off for a mission that turned deadly when that small group of men found that they were facing a whole battalion of enemy soldiers.  Sam said that about midnight they detected movement while he was on patrol and about that time he was hit and was seriously wounded.  He was attended by a medic during that long night.  He has a deep scar running from his hip to halfway down his thigh -- he would spend 2 months at a hospital in Japan before returning to Viet Nam. He was awarded his purple heart while in the hospital bed.

       A couple months ago, our pastor asked us to look back at God's providence and protection in our lives.  He suggested that it would be good to write it down and reflect on how God had provided for us in the past.  Lying in the jungles of Viet Nam, hurt and bleeding -- how could that be God's protection?  Well, as Paul Harvey used to say, here's "the rest of the story."

      A helicopter was able to land the next morning at pick Sam up so he could get medical treatment.  But not long after that, his unit was attacked by a battalion of NVA/VC and many of the American soldiers were wounded or killed.  Several men in Sam's unit were killed, including his platoon leader and the medic who had treated his wounds. His commander, Capt. Paul Bucha would receive the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the battle. If Sam had not be wounded, he likely would have his name on The Wall along with the other young men in his unit.
Psalm 105:4,5 says "Look to the Lord and His strength. Seek his face always.  Remember the wonders He has done." So today, as I remember the wonders He has done, I give thanks again for God's providence and protection.