Thursday, February 26, 2009

The "Other" Becky ...Chapter 1

I may have to break this into "chapters"...cause I can't tell it short. Just so you know...

Today seems to be the day for me to tell you a bit about the "other" Becky in our lives. Why today? Because today marks her 66th birthday!! More than likely, it will be the last she will celebrate here with us (...and we've been saying that for several years!). Yes, knowing this makes me a bit sad, but I also rejoice that God has seen fit to bless our family so richly over the past 5 years or so, with really getting to know such a lovely lady...and I don't use "lovely" lightly! She's truly lovely inside and out!

Mrs. Becky (as we call her) has qualified for Hospice care for 4 or 5 years!!! Do you know what that means? To qualify for Hospice, the doctor has to certify you have 6 - 12 months to live. Each year you have to be re-certified. So despite her doctors' best guesses, she's been living the last 6 months of her earthly life for nearly 5 years! Anybody who has known her very long is not surprised.... She is an amazing woman! She has the determination of a steam locomotive! Just try getting in her way!

You see, Mrs. Becky has MSA or Multiple Systems Atrophy. This disease is in the Parkinson's family without the shakes. Actually, the disease attacks all the systems of your body in a degenerative fashion. She went from walking, to using a walker, to using a scooter, to a wheelchair and now is bedridden. Even though she is bedridden, it took this disease a long time to get her down that far!

When she could still walk, she would be walking along and then would just stop...we used to say her transmission would shift into neutral until she could get her brain to shift things back into drive. Sometimes that was a second or two...sometimes lonnnnngggg minutes. Can you imagine not being able to hold your eyelids open...not because you're sleepy, but because the lids won't open on their own? You have to reach up and hold your eyelid up if you want to see something. Can you imagine reaching up to scratch your nose with your hand and having your arm get stuck in that position and not be able to move your hand away until your brain shifts back into gear?

What about your tongue? Try talking or chewing without moving your tongue...because it gets stuck in one position, too! Over time, more and more of her "systems" have quit working properly. Sometimes things work, sometimes they just shift to neutral for a few minutes or even an hour or more. (Last week she told me she was having trouble keeping her mouth shut. We laughed together when I told her I had the very same problem ---wayyyy too often!) But that's just her physical body. Her mind is as sharp as ever and her heart continues to shine through.

I met Mrs. Becky for the first time over the telephone about 8 years ago. She called as part of our church's outreach program. We had visited the church, and she was the one who got our card to contact us. We hit it off immediately--talked for nearly an hour on the phone! She lived right up the road from us and was a horse nut just like our Bex. She made it a point to speak to me pretty much each Sunday thereafter. Shortly after we joined the church, she was struck with this terrible disease and it started taking her down. Over the next 3 years, we would see each other at church, but we were just acquaintances.

Then about 5 years ago, I heard through the Sunday School grapevine that she needed a bit of help at home and ...long-story shorter...since my girls were home schoolers and I wanted to help them learn about serving others, I started taking them to Mrs. Becky's house every Wednesday to help her. Bex was 13 and K was 15. Mrs. Becky and Bex hit it off right away being "horse" people...sharing their names didn't hurt either! Mrs. Becky fell in love with K right away because she recognized her hurting heart and knew she needed lots of unconditional love. K soaked it up!!!

The first couple of Wednesday's, I stayed and helped...but then it became VERY clear that she liked having the girls WITHOUT me! This was great for me! It gave me a free day to run errands, meet friends for lunch or whatever and it gave Mrs. Becky two teenagers she could boss around and share her life lessons with. It was a wonderful arrangement for us both. My girls would do the "little" things for her that she couldn't do for herself anymore...water her plants, brush the dog, sweep the porch, decorate for holidays, weed the flower beds, help her go through boxes, clean closets, reorganize drawers, etc. They LOVED their Wednesday's at Mrs. Becky's. Sometimes she worked them hard, some days they played. The playing might involve makeup, movies, manicures or any number of other "fun" activities. She basically adopted them as her grandchildren. I liked the "grandmother" part because it gave Bex a chance to have a "real" grandmother relationship like I did growing up! Bex continues to spend each Wednesday with Mrs. Becky doing simple chores. They still have fun...just different now that Mrs. Becky can't supervise as closely as she once did.

The picture on the right is from May 2007's Mother-Daughter Tea at our church.

I wasn't privileged to know Mrs. Becky in her younger days like so many of her old friends in our church. I've heard a LOT of stories--not all of them flattering! Although, she has been greatly loved --she apparently was a very outspoken, bossy, determined, perfectionist (and still is!) that probably drove a lot of her friends God has mellowed (and perfected) her into one of the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful, giving, loving, and greatest champions for Christ I've ever known. Her ministry now is praying for folks and witnessing to her un-saved caregivers. She has taught me and my girls sooooo much over the past years. Although, each day it seems harder to watch her fade, I can't imagine having missed out on such a blessing from the Lord.

Someone commented on my "Cynthia" post saying that I had too many wonderful friends. Well, we all know we can NEVER have too many wonderful friends! I think God has seen fit to bless me with some really extraordinary Christian role models because He took my mom when I was so young. He knew I needed these women in my life to teach me those special things that she didn't have the opportunity to teach. Kind of like the old saying "When God closes a door, He opens a window." He has let me look through some AMAZING windows!

More tomorrow....with pictures!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Meggy...

Yes, I know I planned to blog 2-3 times a week this year... I can't believe I haven't posted for 20 days!!!! So much for plans. I guess my focus is just on other things these days. I'll try to do better.

I don't know where the days go. On second thought, I DO know where the days go...its the evening hours I tend to lose track of. My days are fairly steady going to work, coming home, etc. But the evenings seem to speed right on by. It seems I just get home, then look at the clock and it's already 11 pm!

Since I last posted, our Women's Ministry enjoyed our annual retreat in Norman Park, GA. It was quite a change from our past retreats. I'll try to get my pictures uploaded and share a few things with you soon.

This weekend, Bex is back at Camp Charis at a SALT Weekend. S-Servant A-and L-Leadership T-Training. This is a teen youth group at its very best. One of the best activities we've found for our sweet girl. It sure is quiet here at home when she's not here. I'm ready for her to be home tomorrow night.

Bex continues to do well in college. I'm especially proud of her work in her English class. Although I'm confident that she will do fine --away from my homeschooling, it's always great encouragement for Mom when she is able to do well under a "real" teacher!

Spook continues to delight us as he continues to GROW! He and Squeaky play pretty rough. It scares me, but Squeaky seems to enjoy it (in a weird way!). This morning, Squeaky was very restless lying in the middle of the floor. Mr. Fix-It seemed to think he needed a playmate, so we let Spook in the house.

It was so funny to see this huge dog take his big paw and knock the cat over and then put his mouth over the cat's head. Then the cat sits up on his haunches and swipes at the dog's face. Not hard swipes like he's scared --but swipes like..."two can play at this game!" It is so funny to watch. If Squeaky gets bored and quits playing, Spook will grab him by the scruff of the neck (like a cat's mother) and pull him over to him. Lest you worry about the cat, I assure you he can get away anytime he wants. It's easy to see they are really "PLAYing."

After a few minutes of playing, Spook got bored and just layed there. Then, Squeaky reaches over and bites Spook's paw and it all begins again. I wish I had a video of all the fun. We sure laughed watching them!

Today I've done a bit of catching up on a few things. I actually got the corner of my desk cleaned off. It was piled high with "stuff" that needed a new home, to be filed or thrown away. It seems to build up so quickly, I can't keep up. Now that's done and I can start dreading working on our taxes....the fun just never ends!

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Panama-Mama in My Life

This is my friend, Cynthia. She's from Panama and is probably my most traveled friend. This woman has traveled the world! She rarely stays seems she's always on the way... somewhere! Cynthia is one of the busiest people I know.

We've known each other since we worked together before Bex was born. If it hadn't been for Cynthia, I would have been naked through the last half of my pregnancy with Bex (Okay...not totally naked!). She would come to work on a Monday and say "Here, try this on." And I would have a new outfit to wear with my huge tummy. Did I mention she is an amazing seamstress? Nearly all my maternity clothes were hand-made just for me! She doesn't have much use for patterns for herself anymore. She just sees fabric she likes, buys it and sews an outfit. This is her idea of fun.

She has a lot of other amazing qualities, too! For example, she has a fantastic talent for being a friend. She collects people. She gathers people into her family on a daily basis. And once you're in her're her family! She doesn't let you go!

This woman has mentored and nurtured countless teenagers and young college students as they passed through her home. They may have been there a week, a few months, and some a year or two. Her home is always open to friends and family...and this woman has a LOT OF FAMILY!!!

Though she has no biological children, she has a lot of "daughters" and a whole passle of grandchildren all over the world. In fact, she's Bex's "Chocolate Grandma." Yep! You see, Cynthia believes what the Bible says about "loving one another." Anyone who knows her feels that love whenever you get within 10 feet of her! She exudes love.

She also has a contagious smile...this woman SMILES!!!! She also laughs. She loves to laugh! You can't help but have a smile grow on your face as you talk to's just not possible.

Even though we haven't worked together in about 18 years, we have remained friends. She's one of those friends who you may not see or even talk to for months -- but when you finally do get together, you feel so close. I'm sure you all have those friends.

When we had lunch together a few weeks ago, I learned that she's preparing to retire in a few months. When she retires, her plan is to move to the Tampa area to be around her family there. She deserves some peace (there will NEVER be quiet around her!), but I don't want to give her up!

I'll miss her, but I know one thing...she'll never let me OUT of her family. That makes me smile through my tears.....

Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

More Spook and Squeak

Let me just state right up front that I am not a "big dog in the house" type person. I'm not opposed to other people having dogs in their home. I like dogs.

When Mr. Fix-It and I first married, I had to adopt his bulldog-child, Major. Major lived just like a child in our home until his death in 1990. Since then, with the exception of one tiny Shih-Tzu we had for a few months, we have not had a dog in the house. Cats, yes. Dogs, no.

No dogs in the house...until now. I don't know why. Maybe, because Spook is such a sweetie, he has been spoiled and allowed inside. WHY is he any different than our two other dogs? I can't put into words the WHY of this. He's just different.

Here are a couple of pictures of his sweetness...and his desire to just be near somebody...ANYBODY will do...even the Squeaky, the cat.

Bex informed me this morning that Spook slept IN her bed with her last night. She said he was really warm to cuddle with. Ewwww! He smells like a... DOG!

Stay tuned.