Essentially Esther Banner

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Today is my day to escape inside my brain, dig around, and see what comes up. Sorta’ like climbing the stairs into grandma’s attic to see what you can find to “play with.” That was such fun on rainy days at MY grandma’s house.

Since today is Halloween and a wondrous time for children to “dress up” as someone who lives in their imagination…..I crossed a few light years to my own childhood….and came forward to my children and a few others. Oh if only we could move as fast as those brain waves. I have a series of good surfing waves when I let my mind wander.

Halloween, 1939, we had a deep snow in Omaha. The flakes came down all day and my brother, Louis, and I were anxiously waiting for dark so we could go out “trick or treating”……when the magic time came and we bundled up with our coats, mittens, stocking caps and leggings, my “over shoes” wouldn’t pull on over my shoes. During the past year my feet and shoe size outgrew them. Dad saw my dismay and came up with a solution. He told me to take my shoes off and when I did so, he wrapped my feet in layers of newspaper. He then told me to put my foot in the over-shoe and when I did, my foot went in. At that moment, I knew my dad could do ANYTHING!!

Of course, being small, the snow was deeper for me than my big brother. He was admonished to “watch out” for me and I slowed him down, terribly. We finally had to get out in the street and follow the tire tracks….then turning off to go to the front doors of the houses. My brother soon found that my small size reaped big benefits so he was glad to stick with me for extra handouts. When we came home, out sacks were full of goodies and we emptied it out on the dining room table to look at our treasure……….mom and dad sat down and looked at all of it while my brother gave accounts of our evening. I remember such a happy time of us all sitting around the table, laughing and eating the candy. Of course, dad, the great story teller…..would lapse back when he was a kid and tell us all over again of the wild escapades he and his brothers pulled. I can imagine the scene, looking in from outdoors, at the lights of the house and a little family of four laughing and talking and eating candy. It is a Kodak moment of my past.

When my own three children were small and used to go trick or treating it was fun to make their costumes, dress them up and take pictures. I have some in my album that are more precious to me than gold. Their happy little faces beaming by a big jack-o-lantern!! When they were little we always had a “carving time” but as they grew older we ended up taking a magic marker to draw on funny faces. Our neighbors, the Fowlers, used to have more fun than the kids. Gene would dress up in a scary outfit and sit by the door. When Rosalie opened it to give out candy, Gene would yell until their blood froze in their veins. Ah, yes…..those were the days……..

In the vein of childhood and the magic of those years, I ran across a Dr. Seuss poem that says to me what the best “costume” is for us all……


If you’d never been born, well then what would you be?
You might be a fish? Or a toad in a tree!
You might be a doorknob! Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes!
Or worse than all that--why, you might be a WASN’T!
A WASN’T has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t.
A WASN’T just isn’t. He just isn’t present.
But you--you ARE YOU! And now, isn’t that pleasant?

Today you are you! That is truer than true!
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Shout loud, “I am lucky to be what I am!
Thank goodness I’m not a clam or a yam!
Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!
I am what I am! That’s a great thing to be!
If I say so myself, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!”

Whoever you are out there in cyber-land, though we may never meet….go out there as ghosts, goblins, witches….but DO trick or treat!! Halloween is for the young and the old….and for all of the stories, so happily told!! It’s more than just candy or anything dandy……..it’s for dressing up fancy in anything handy. When costumes are dusty and all put away……..your memories, though rusty, will remember the day!! (My apologies to Dr. Seuss.) Under those costumes is a you-ier you!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, October 30, 2004


We went back to Nebraska on the 12th of March. We had the clock in our favor and arrived before suppertime. We caught up on all the news and mom asked a lot of questions about “home” and what was going on there. With each visit now I could see a stirring in her to come back to Missouri. Being with aunt Mary in the house they grew up in was her security for these past months but I knew she was getting well when she talked of going home.

Mom and aunt Mary had always been very close. They were direct opposites, in nature, but each respected the other’s abilities. Aunt Mary went to college and had a long career teaching school while mom married and had my brother and I. Mom, on the other hand, never wanted to go on to higher education; she was content to be a wife and mother. I cannot tell you how much she taught us with her ability to accept things as they came along and “make do” with all that might entail.

Neither would have been happy to fill the other’s shoes. Mom had the patience of Job and while aunt Mary was a teacher of children, she didn’t have the temperament to spend the mundane hours raising the same two children. God in His wisdom knows just how to measure all that out. Each was happy with her life and mom was learning all over again just what her life was. Her therapist did a wonderful job of recuperation progress.

It was always hard to leave mom but she still had a little ways to go before she was ready for release from her doctor. We said our good-byes on Monday morning and made our way back to Willow Springs. I am always struck with the difference as we drive south the 500-miles between home and Nebraska. We left bare trees and brown lawns but arriving home we were greeted with buds and blooms that danced along the hillsides and spilled into the countryside. South Missouri in the Spring is something to behold.

John and a friend named Gibbs came on March 22nd and stayed a few days with us. John rented a U-Haul trailer to take his stereo and TV back to New Orleans. I washed his clothes up to take back and fed them good while they were here…..those TLC things that mom’s do when their sons show up from college. I would imagine John and Barbara are doing the same things for L.J. now that he is away at college.

April 2nd we made our next trip to Blair and I made several dishes of food I thought would be a change from their usual fare. I made a chicken casserole and took a peach cobbler and a cake. It was appreciated and gave aunt Mary a break, although mom was able to cook now and help aunt Mary out. She had a foot operated on and it was causing her a great deal of trouble. It was nice they could “be there” for each other.

Uncle Roger called to tell us our new car was in that we ordered from him so on the 26th of April we drove to Blair to get it and to bring mom home at last. She was all packed and ready. We stayed the week-end and left on Monday as was our custom. This time aunt Mary would be alone and mom would be coming back to her own little place. She enjoyed the ride and feasted her eyes on the familiar road that led back home. She had recovered from a near fatal stroke, heart attack and physical loss of her left arm and leg. She was not only coming home but her mind, and body and heart were well once more.

Spring is a time of renewal….and sometimes we experience a “spring kind” of fresh awareness of just how wonderful life really is…..and how precious …..as well as fragile. It is a time to celebrate life in every form and to respond to the constancy of seasons….“If winter (and sickness) comes….can spring be far behind?” Mom was home again……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, October 29, 2004


Just got home and I’m happy to report all is well. Rocky suffers from claustrophobia and was pretty up tight when he found he had to have another MRI. He’s brave enough to whip up on a lion charging, but when it comes to getting tight in small places, he freaks. I can only imagine the stress as I’ve never been bothered with it.

Dr. Ferguson looked at all of the images and said he is “clear” and wouldn’t need to see him for 6-months, at which time he would have another MRI and visit with him. Rocky’s big hope was that he could get off of the dilantin medication for seizures but Dr. Ferguson said considering his age and the history of his past health, he definitely wants him to stay on it for insurance.

It seems the brain, once it has been disturbed to this extent, can do very funny things……suddenly with no warning. At Rocky’s age, a severe fall could cause brain hemorrhage or worse which would pretty well ruin the good health he now enjoys. It seemed such a big deal going in but when Dr. Ferguson explained it like he did…..it made more sense than just getting rid of another few pills.

You don’t have to sit in a waiting room very long to figure you are one of the lucky ones and you’d just better do what the doctor says. Personally, I always come away feeling very fortunate. Dr. Ferguson said with Rocky’s history and his condition now, he estimated his probable life span at 90+ years. He said with my history he would add 3 to 5-years because I’ve never had a major illness. So!! Now we shall wait and see what our good Lord has in mind.

Thank you for your prayers, love and concern. We appreciate it more than words can express. I’m anxiously waiting to hear an “all clear” from dear Ellen….and then we can all breathe easy.

God bless!!
Rocky and Esther

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Just a note to tell you we will be gone Friday. Rocky has the 6-month check-up after his brain surgery that requires a CT before we see his doctor…….. so that means early rising to be there by 8:30am. Ellen Crush, our blogger friend is going tomorrow also and we will be anxiously waiting for both results. If you have an extra prayer in your pocket we would appreciate it and I’m sure Ellen would as well. May God smile on you and your loved ones this day.

Until Saturday,
Essentially Esther


January started out our New Year with the usual weather swings. One day it was 53* in the morning and dropped to 28* by 2:30 in the afternoon. We never take nice weather for granted in the first month of the year. We do, however, enjoy the nice days that come along, knowing they won’t last.

Our normal thing for January is to enjoy lots of inside things. For me, it’s quilting, knitting and crochet…..for Warren it was lots of TV. He took up latch-hooking for a while but it became too expensive. He was always driven to finish it. He’d get up at 5:30am and latch hook all day. In short order, the piece was done and he was needing more. We gave away all of the pieces because we didn’t want to walk on them and we didn’t have wall space to hang them. The perfect solution was to make them and give them away.

John was usually home in January between Fall and Spring terms and he always spent a lot of time with friends in West Plains……I continued working my three days a week and the weather became bitterly cold later in the month. Some of the offices were not heated well and it was miserable on those days. Warren and John played lots of table games on the days I worked.

Mid-month, Warren and I made a fast trip to Nebraska to see mom and aunt Mary. We drove in a blizzard from St. Joseph on into Blair….we saw a lot of cars in the median and shoulder where they spun out on the icy road. The front-wheel drive on our Citation never faltered and we made it to aunt Mary’s without mishap. It was so good to get in out of the cold. The house was toasty warm and aunt Mary had supper ready for us. Mom was doing well with her therapy and both were in good spirits. We slept in warm, flannel sheets that night in an upstairs room where we could hear the wind howling around the corner bedroom.

I was up early to give mom her morning meds. After breakfast, Warren and I went to the hospital and to the doctor’s office to take care of mom’s billings. I wrote checks on her bank account to pay for her medical costs up to that time. It’s times like that when Social Security is a blessing. Mom was much relieved to have it taken care of. We were glad to get back to aunt Mary’s…..the temps had dropped to -15* with a cutting wind. It was miserable to be outdoors. We spent the rest of the week-end by the fire and left for home the next day.

The following week Warren and John just about wore out a Perquacky game and I worked my three days. It was so cold we only had a few applicants each day so I worked on an afghan for Louis and Gail. On the 23rd of the month, we got up before 4:00am to take John to St. Louis to catch a plane to New Orleans. Soon he would be in a warmer climate and the winter winds of Missouri would just be a memory.

February was cruel, weather wise. We had snow on the ground most of the month along with ice at times and cold winds. Some days we couldn’t get to the offices to work. Our crew traveled to 13-different locations over a 9-county area. Road crews had their hands full keeping the roads open but they were still icy and hazardous. Several times it started snowing heavy during the day and we had to load up our equipment and go home.

By Valentine’s Day we needed to go back to Blair to take care of mom’s medical charges for her. We were hoping to be able to bring her home soon but not until the therapy sessions were over and her doctor released her. She was improving with each visit and we were encouraged with the progress. Aunt Mary and I helped her with some needlepoint and she was doing an excellent job. Her tiny fingers and concentration were working together very well.

By the 19th of the month, George came through on his way to visit John in New Orleans. He stayed over night and left early the next morning to break the trip up for him. He came back through on his return and had enjoyed the Mardi Gras with John………he was full of descriptions of the whole affair. A “first” for him to participate in Mardi Gras.

We ended the month with a birthday supper for Hank. It was quite festive with Becky and the children contributing to the occasion which made it very special. With March coming up we had Spring flowers to look forward to and the hope that mom would soon be coming home to her own little house. I know she was beginning to think of “going home” but mom had a wonderful talent of being content wherever she was or for whatever reason. She was truly amazing. With the worst of winter behind, now, Spring would soon be here………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Does anything ever go according to plan? I would like a poll on that. I’m one of these people who drives myself crazy thinking about all the things that COULD go wrong….and trying to avoid it. I am usually early for appointments and arrive with everything needed. No flap. At least….that is my plan!!

Yesterday was a day where Murphy won every battle….but one. Rocky and I left home early to see Zach graduate from the Heavy Equipment School. If you read yesterday’s post, you know the plan and the background. We started out with the attitude that every thing was on schedule and we could enjoy the ride to Fort Leonard Wood without being stressed.

That was the plan. Once we left Houston, a town 28-miles to our northwest, the sky began looking like it might rain. We left with a gray, cloudy sky and some fog but figured it would burn off by the time we arrived at the Fort. As small towns fell behind us the sky got darker and darker so we figured we might drive “through” a rain…..still OK.

We made extra time because since 9-11 the Fort has opened a security shack at the South Gate where we go in….it takes a little time to show the driver’s license and registration, along with insurance. They look in the vehicles, use the mirror to check underneath and you are on your way. No problem….we made time for this.

We knew we would need time to find our destination. The only information was that he would graduate in the “Fork Lift Building.” Rocky thought he remembered where it was because we had in fact, passed it on our prior visit to see Zach. To be sure we wouldn’t foul up, we made a lot of time to look for it…..but just after we left the security shack it boiled up and started raining hard. We hoped it would be a heavy shower….. and then quit.

By the time we got to the connecting street Rocky thought would take us right to it, the sky opened up and began raining hard. We had our little “map” of Leonard Wood and finding one building on it was like a scavenger hunt. We gave up on that. Seeing some troops, we turned in a driveway and Rocky rolled his window down to ask one of the men if he knew where the Fork Lift Bldg. was. He said, “No sir, I’m Army and I don’t know anything about Air Force here. I don’t even know where their Hdqrs. are…….I’m new here.”

When Rocky attempted to roll the window up, it wouldn’t go. It was stuck. He was getting wetter by the minute. The window would not go up!! He tried and tried and finally drove on, figuring he wouldn’t get any wetter with the car moving than sitting there. By now the clock was getting close to time we needed to be at the ceremony.

We decided to go back to the Air Force Bldg. where we had picked Zach up before and dropped him off. Rocky ran inside and asked for directions…..taking more precious time. By the time the troops figured out and wrote directions down for him it was getting later and later. To make a long story short….none of the directions worked. We were both beginning to feel impending doom when a hard wind came up with driving rain, plastering leaves against the windshield, all of which made it impossible to read street signs. All of my experience on the Fort was of no use because we were in a totally different situation now. After Rocky was good and wet, the window rolled up without any further difficulty.

It was time for the ceremony and we were still driving blindly around when we discovered a connecting street we were told the bldg. would be on. There sat a brown, metal building that looked like a maintenance shed. Rocky parked and went towards a troop standing in the door and then motioned me to hurry in. The program was just starting. It was 2:22pm when we rushed in and were escorted to some chairs where other family members were sitting.

A Major was just beginning his opening remarks and we hadn’t missed a thing!! We spied Zachary sitting on the front row with the other fellows in his class and I felt a huge relief. After a couple of speeches, family members were asked to go up to their graduate and were given pins to attach to their jackets. Grandpa Rocky went up and put Zach’s on……..and seeing that…it was worth all the frustration we went through to get there. Rocky and his daughter’s family lived apart most of their years and Grandpa missed most of his grandchildren’s events. This was a time for him to enjoy with Zach.

After the ceremony, we spoke with the Major who was also late because he couldn’t find the building either. We had a laugh together…….because if he hadn’t been late, we would have missed the whole thing. Someone was looking out for us and it all worked out. Zach graduated with a 94% average and received a special award for high grades. No need to tell you how proud we were.

We took Zach to eat and visited as long as we could. He had to get back and we had a long drive ahead so we hugged and said our goodbyes. It will be a long time before we see Zach again for he goes to Ramstein, Germany after two weeks at home in California. God speed, Zach, and may your landings always be soft.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Gone again today. We are going to Fort Leonard Wood to see Rocky’s grandson graduate. He is in the Air Force and after boot camp in Texas he was stationed at Fort Wood for further training. He has been operating big equipment for several weeks and will be shipped to Germany after a short leave.

His mother and father live in California, and has an older brother and younger sister who are still at home. His mother drove to Fort Wood to see him when he arrived and his dad will fly out to drive home with him after graduation. They plan a large gathering of friends and family when he arrives back in California.

For me, it is always memorable to go back to the Fort. I was well acquainted with the Base for over 30-years before my marriage to Rocky finally ended my association with the Army. I have nothing but good to say for the military. As a retiree’s dependant I was always treated with the utmost professionalism.

We are happy to be the family representatives for this occasion since it didn’t work out for any other family member to be there. Zach is a great kid and we wish him well.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, October 25, 2004

A GOOD ENDING....1981 

I had to work the next three days and Louis was to fly into Omaha my second day back home. We didn’t get any calls through the first night but the second day aunt Mary called before I went to work. Mom was basically not doing well at all….there was so much wrong with her, the list went on and on. I worked but my heart made a big lump in my throat. It seemed the week-ends when I was with her, she improved and when I left, she became worse. I was hoping when Louis arrived at the hospital she would rebound.

I finished my last day at work, washed, packed and cooked food to take. We left early the next morning for Blair and arrived our usual 10-hours later. We drove in fog and mist that broke away into hard rain most of the way. The drenched earth and sogginess everywhere crept into my brain and did a number on my thinking. I was getting very tired, physically, to match the mood swing of mom being better….then worse…and hope swinging along with my mood. I knew seeing Louis would be good for both of us.

We stopped at aunt Mary’s and left Jake and emptied the car….then went straight to the hospital. I had a good visit with Louis who had been at the hospital since he arrived…..he was feeling tired after the long flight and the emotion of seeing mom like she was. They always had a special bond….as mother’s and son’s do. Mom was actually perky looking when I entered her room. Her color was better and having both of us there obviously worked for her good. Aunt Mary and Louis soon left for the house to warm up the food I brought and we stayed until we had to leave at 8:30pm when visiting hours were over.

After the week-end we left for home on Monday, I worked my three days, and we drove back on Friday. Louis and aunt Mary had been staying with mom through the day….other of her siblings came and went and mom was beginning to be up a little and look much better. Mom was up in a wheel-chair now and feeling stronger every day. She seemed to turn a corner and made progress every day now. We made another trip back home for my 3-days at work and once more returned to Blair.

On Wednesday (October 28th) mom was discharged from the hospital after the noon meal and Louis took her to aunt Mary’s house. It was a festive occasion when we arrived the following Friday evening. Louis treated all of us to pizza which was one of mom’s favorite foods. She ate one slice and did very well. I took the night shift to give mom her pills every three hours throughout the night. I got up at 5:00am to wake Louis for his flight. He had to return the rental car and his flight left at 7:05am……I fixed a thermos of coffee for him and after some tearful hugs he was gone.

The day went quickly. Aunt Mary had a young man coming to do yard work and uncle Buster worked along with him most of the day. I ran the vacuum and cleaned house for aunt Mary and took care of meals and mom’s medication. Louis called later that evening to tell us he arrived home OK. I took the night shift for mom’s med’s that night again. Sunday was a dark, gloomy and rainy day but cozy to sit in the living room visiting and knitting; mom unrolled yarn for us while we worked our needles. It was so good to see her up again and able to participate. She was going to receive intensive therapy for speech and her left arm and leg.

We continued on our weekly schedule the rest of the year. Three days of work for me, then one day to travel, two days at Blair, another day of travel……then we started all over again. My two days a week with mom were good. I helped her bathe in the big old fashioned tub and got up at night for her medications. She no longer had to have the 3:00am ones so it was getting better all the time. Since aunt Mary was involved with mom the five days I wasn’t there, I cleaned for her on week-ends and cooked so she could get a break.

We stayed home over the Thanksgiving week-end to winterize the house and change the closets to winter things. It was a last-ditch effort to get it done before bad weather moved in. I had a traditional dinner on Thanksgiving Day for Becky and her family……..we had a lot to be thankful for this year. Mom was still with us and doing very well. Warren picked John up at the St. Louis airport as he flew in from New Orleans for the Christmas holidays.

We had an early gift exchange with mom and aunt Mary mid-December as we wanted to be home for Christmas. George, John and Becky came with her family for the day and it was traditionally wonderful. The boys were here until New Year’s Eve and then left for Kansas City. And so, the end of the year was upon us and we could number all present and accounted for within our family. Peace reigned and we were very grateful……….

Sunday, October 24, 2004


Posting yesterday was impossible. Our server would not connect us to the outside world so we were captive in our little town. Rocky and I had plans to visit friends at the Lake of the Ozarks so we were on the road early. The overcast sky broke away to a bright sunny day which made the leaves parade in magnificent beauty. New England gets much credit for her fall foliage…..and rightly so…..but southern Missouri is not to be denied. She is one gorgeous gal when it’s time to show her colors.

We had a wonderful visit with some old friends of mine and Rocky’s delight was a little dog they added to their family. A two-year old Shih Tzus, named GiGi. She was a bundle of energy and cuteness all wrapped up in one little fur ball. Just adorable. She wore herself out loving everyone and performing for us.

Today, Becky, Rocky and I head to Springfield for the day. It is our opportunity to once more enjoy nature’s paint pallet. I leave you with a thought for the day…..and I hope wherever you are that your world is beautiful.


God said, “Let’s build a better world,”
and I said, “How?
The world is such a cold, dark place,
and so complicated now,
And I’m so afraid and helpless,
there’s nothing I can do!”
But God in his wisdom said,
“Just build a better you!”


Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, October 22, 2004

EARLY FALL....1981 

Uncle Tom called on September 11th to tell us that mom was in the hospital. She had complained of chest pains the day before and was short of breath. They took her to the Emergency Room…her blood pressure was high…194/104. She was checked over good, her ECG was fairly normal….she was given medication and sent back “home.” She was no better the morning of the 11th so they took her back to the doctor and was sent on to the hospital.

I called when I got home from work and she seemed OK but weak. She remained in the hospital for several more days and I called regularly to check on her condition. On the 17th uncle Buster called to tell us mom had a heart attack at 4:00am, was in intensive care and barely hanging on. We started packing the minute I was off the phone and made plans to leave for Nebraska the next day.

Mom had a stroke along with a heart attack. She felt bad during the night and got out of bed to go to the bathroom, the stroke occurred and she fell to the floor, remaining unconscious several hours before she was discovered. They put her in ICU and she was there when we arrived. She was ashen and weak…couldn’t talk but did respond to questions by nodding yes or no. She did fairly well if I didn’t make my inquiries too long or complicated, at which time she would become confused. We stayed with her until they told us we needed to leave.

Mom had a bad spell during the night with rapid heart rate. The doctor had been called and worked with her 3-hours to get her pulse back to normal. I spent the entire day with her but she slept a lot and kept her eyes closed most of the time…holding her hand “told” her that I was there. She took only a few teaspoons of broth and gagged with the pills she had to take….she chocked easily and had difficulty swallowing. I stayed until leaving time….8:30pm.

She was stable through the night and seemed a little more alert….communicated by squeezing my hand once for yes, twice for no. She moved her legs a little and could say, “un-huh.” She was able to drink more water but still had very little nourishment. Her doctor lowered one of her medications in hopes that she would be able to get by with less. Her heart rate picked up and from 5:30pm until 10:00pm and he battled to stabilize her. I left once she was resting but was fearful and discouraged. I didn’t see how mom’s heart could stand much more battering. I wasn’t alone…..the doctor was worried as well.

This went on for days. Two steps forward, one back. Our hopes would rise and fall with each gain or set-back. I sat at her bed holding her hand for days. Finally, she began responding to things around her….the nurses got her up in a chair so she could look out the window….very good medicine for mom. She loved nature and being outdoors so it was a treat. Little by little her eating progressed to the point she was on solid food and feeding herself. It was slow going but she didn’t spill food and was a clean little eater.

I needed to get back home to work. The guys had covered for me and I had been gone 10-days. Mom was improving so we came home on Monday, I worked my three days, and on Friday we drove back to Blair. We had the drive down to an exact 10-hours either way. I needed to give mom’s sister’s a break from being at the hospital every day so for the next 2-days I stayed with mom from early morning until late at night. We both helped clean house for aunt Mary since she had been away so much.

I felt so much better after this trip. Mom tried to communicate more and got enough words out at a time so we could piece together what she was talking about. It was almost like a game of charades. Mom’s coloring was coming back and she seemed content. Our trips continued each week. I would work my three days, come home and pack, we would drive all the next day….stay two days at the hospital and drive home the next day to go to work. I found a way to save the time in the car by knitting Christmas TV slippers for most of the family as well as knit on afghans.

Things looked better for mom and I was hoping she could leave the hospital soon. When I called aunt Mary later, after we were home, she said mom had another light stroke at 3:00pm…speech not good nor movement of her left arm or leg. I called Louis to tell him he’d better come because mom’s condition was very fragile. He said he would make immediate arrangements to catch a flight to Omaha the next day…I looked forward to seeing him…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, October 21, 2004


John spent the bulk of his summer being a volunteer Youth Director in our church. He could see the need and there wasn’t a position in our church for one. It is often his way of dealing with needs. If he can do it, if he has time and if he is qualified, he steps up to the plate. One of his summer projects was to take them to our church camp for a week.

When they came back he asked to have a Sunday night fellowship with volunteers making ice-cream and desserts….the Youth would have a skit and he would give a brief run-down on the week at camp. The skit was hilarious….the kids enjoyed it and the church enjoyed it…but I doubt if any of us enjoyed it as much as John. He is a born ham and part clown….

He often took over the lesson for me on Monday evenings for my Bible Class. I enjoyed that immensely….it was nice to ‘not know’ how the subject matter would be dealt with. Teaching is something I love to do but the one problem with that is, you always know “what’s coming” and where the punch is to the lesson. As a listener I am treated to a totally different perspective of the material. Therefore, I am learning…….to learn something new is not only stimulating but inspiring.

Warren was finding ways to accomplish the chores he needed to do. Whereas he used to hate lawn work he became obsessed with it. He mowed by putting his stomach against the lawnmower handle and then walking across the yard with his crutches. When he got to the end of the row he would put the right crutch over in his left hand and taking the mower handle he made jabbing motions at the grass until it was to his liking……then back for another row. He was elated to know he could actually mow the whole lawn this way.

He devised ways to “carry” things by using two buckets. He had forearm crutches so his hand grips were where he placed the bails….then his hands went over the grips and he could carry things back and forth to do his jobs. He carried trash to the “burn barrel,” brought things in from the garage ….and took things TO the garage. He could wash the car, he painted the garage, he ran the vacuum and grocery shopped. He attacked anything to prove to himself he could overcome his handicap. Gravelle would have been proud of him if he knew how well he adapted to the crutches.

Becky’s family lived close by so we saw them a lot and enjoyed the grandchildren. George came to visit when he could. In mid-August, uncle Tom and aunt Inabelle came to visit mom for their annual visit before taking mom with them to the Stricklett reunion in Blair. Mom had us all over for a chicken supper…which was delicious. The next day Warren’s cousins came from Nebraska and stayed with us over night. I had to work the next day so Warren took them all to breakfast after I left.

On John’s last Sunday we all went to church early in the evening as John was to speak to the group that Becky taught on Sunday nights. They were GA’s and the program was Christmas in August. It was a yearly program to gather school materials for oppressed regions and to mail them out. John talked of the missions work in New Orleans, telling them he had been to the center and how their articles would be used. It was a church effort, headed up by the Girls In Action. He later preached the evening church service and didn’t know beforehand that there was to be a fellowship held in his honor afterwards…. and a check presented to him for the hours he had volunteered over the summer.

The next day we left for New Orleans with him in a packed car. Once we got to John’s dorm we helped unload his things and hurried to meet his friends for supper. We spent the night at the Guest House on campus and met John the next morning to take him to breakfast. We had to hurry getting him back to the seminary as he had a 9:00am class. We hugged him quick and he was gone. We headed north on the long highway home………..

Mom left with the Powell’s two days after we came home…….with John and mom both gone our life soon turned to other activities. It became apparent that summer was over and we would soon be gathering leaves. What we didn’t know….another crisis was eminent.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

SUMMER OF 1981.... 

Summer came and with that, we went to New Orleans to pick John up from seminary. It was our first trip to the Crescent City and John played guide and showed us all the “tourist” sights. It was impressive to say the least. John loved the South and was already acclimated to the culture. His enthusiasm and respect for the area rubbed off on us……I didn’t leave my heart in San Francisco but I did leave a piece of mine in New Orleans. It was like visiting another country.

I think the thing that intrigued me most was the casual atmosphere everywhere. If you went to the French Quarter, people strolled along holding hands, stopping now and then to admire the view or look in a shop window. Minstrels strolled the streets, playing an instrument, others would be dancing on the sidewalk; a mime in front of a shop was phenomenal. He didn’t move a muscle or blink. I first thought it was a cigar store Indian….then realized “it” was real. I loved Jackson Square with the local artists sitting all around the edge of the Square with their easels, painting away. Some did portraits. St. Louis Cathedral dominated the Quarter and served as a landmark to find your way around the area. The Balloon Man held the children’s fascination as he blew, twisted and made his wares into all sorts of objects.

One of the nicest features was acceptance. No matter how weird some were dressed, looked or acted…..they were treated the same. It spoke of “I’m OK and you’re OK.” That carried into the friends John introduced us to. Although we were from the “North” we were readily taken in and shown the famous Southern Hospitality. It has always been said that you can tell the quality of a person by the friends he chooses and John certainly chose well.

After several days of touring we loaded up the car and made our trek back to Missouri. It was a hard 12-hour drive in those days but when we arrived mom came with Jake, spaghetti, French bread and pecan pie……..it was very welcome and Jake was jumping all over John….his buddy. George came for my birthday later in the month and was able to spend a few days with us.

During the summer we always have family company coming and going. Aunt Beulah came often and we, in turn, went to see her equally as often. Aunt Mary and Sally came and mom went home with them…….aunt Inabelle and uncle Tom came from Virginia enroute to Nebraska. Mom went with them for their family reunion.

John did quite a bit of preaching during the summer when pastors around our area went on vacation. It was very interesting to go to small country churches with him and see how little has changed in their church building as well as the worship service. One stands out, especially. Two little old ladies pretty well run the whole church….(I have a feeling they even did when the pastor was there)…One played the old piano with vigor. She thumped and banged on those old keys until the piano shook….the out-of-tune piano belched forth anthems I’d never heard before. The other dear lady led the singing and her off-key tones matched the piano. They were in perfect accord….the music was in another. I sat there thinking how our church was in our town….stately large, perfectly tuned pipe organ and piano…gifted organist and pianist and voices that sound almost professional. As I glanced around at the folks gathered together for worship I didn’t feel superior or haughty. Those good people were singing their hearts out and they did their best to make the young preacher feel welcome. He was shown uncommon respect and welcome.

When John got up to preach I felt very privileged to be there. Our God is a gracious God, His wonders to perform. He works through and around people to accomplish the best in all of us. Sometimes, even in an off-key way………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Yesterday was a very busy day. Becky got home Sunday evening and after sharing about her trip, she mentioned she had to go back to finish her root canal in Springfield. In our conversation I didn’t think about asking if she would like for us to take her again in case she didn’t feel very well when she finished. By the time I called and made arrangements yesterday morning I had just a few minutes to get it all together so we could make the 80-miles in time for her appointment. Luckily we didn’t have a long wait as we did on the last appointment.

We made a few stops, had lunch and came home. I thought about writing a late blog and then decided I didn’t have enough time to do it justice. It was exercise night for Becky, Rocky and me, so we were off to the YMCA which is 20-miles back up the road. When we finished, we made a stop at WalMart for a few groceries and came home. After eating a bite we promptly sat down to watch the Rams beat the Buc’s. How sweet it is when a couple of my other favorite teams keep getting beat….namely the Chief’s. They have lost games….but so close it’s heart wrenching. I know…..I’m making excuses for them.

My other favorite team is the Packer’s. Brett Farve is my hero. I love to see that 12-year-old play football. I’m really going to hate it when he retires…….he has had a phenomenal career. I was saddened to learn one of my most respected coaches is retiring next year…..the Chief’s Dick Vermeil. (Thanks to Cuz Dale who researched the spelling of Vermeil……..and the nice phone visit this morning.)

I’m chasing rabbits here. I’m a little frustrated because I’ve been on the phone all morning investigating possibilities to get flu shots. It seems unless you are on oxygen seven days a week…….or serious heart complications…it is no, no no. I guess the rest of us will just have to get the flu……..

Everyone have a great day and thank you God for Cuz Dale who is always REAL and no phony stuff. In this world today…….that is rare…..too rare. I hope all of you out there make it a REAL day and I’m going to do the same….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, October 17, 2004


Today is the day Becky comes home from her wonderful trip to Tulum, Mexico. I have kept her kitties fed, cleaned their litter boxes and given Scrappy his medicine. One pill a day…down the hatch. He was amazingly good about it. He reclined in my arm like a baby and with a little nudge would open his mouth so I could pop the pill in. He would see me get the pill out of the bottle and follow me to the couch….wait for me to pick him up….it seemed he looked forward to his pills…but it was probably the petting he got when it was over. Scrappy and Paddy were very laid back and not a problem.

My “problem” lurked around outside, sizing me up. Mr. Scardey came the first day or two where I could see him but I was only successful in locking him in the garage the first night. After that he stayed his distance and wouldn’t give me another chance. He knew I wasn’t Becky and he wasn’t having it. We adapted a system that worked for both of us. When he heard the screech of Becky’s front door opening he came into view…..on the edges…..he watched and waited until I finished in the house with the other cats….then watched as I put his feed, fresh water, cleaned his litter box and fixed the door so he could go in. As I walked away on the path between our houses……he would come into sight and cautiously go into the garage. I know those kitties will be so happy to have their “mama” back with them again.

As promised, Sunday is my day of inspiration so I’ve selected a couple of things for your pleasure. The first is a poem that is anonymous…..


If you have a tender message,
Or a loving word to say,
Don’t wait ‘til you forget it,
But whisper it today.

The tender words unspoken,
The letter never sent,
The long-forgotten messages,
The wealth of love unspent.

For these some hearts are breaking,
For these some loved ones wait,
Then give them what they’re needing,
Before it is too late.

The following is a poem written by Walter D. Wintle

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t!
If you want to win, but you think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To; the stronger and faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the fellow who thinks he can.

It is such a nice thought to know that “the race isn’t always to the swift…nor the battle to the strong….but time and chance happen to us all…” In God’s eyes we are all winners and people of purpose. Find that thing that consumes your imagination and go for it!! It’s a great day for winners……….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, October 16, 2004

YEAR 1981 UNFOLDS.... 

January 20th from my journal: “Day 444.…the day the hostages were freed in Iran. I had to work but we kept up with the news all day and the process of getting them out. An Algerian plane carried them out of Iranian air space, they fueled in Greece and then on to Algiers. The TV camera’s finally caught up with them there and telecast their progress as they boarded an Air Force Med-Evac to fly them to Germany. To see their joy when boarding an American plane and the release of their emotions was heartwarming……we stayed up late to see them land in Germany. It is Inauguration Day but it took a back seat to the hostages getting out. Ronald Reagan was sworn in and Carter will fly to Germany to greet the hostages. He had worked so hard to get them out.”

The following Sunday, January 25, was Super Bowl Sunday. The Oakland Raiders won over the Philadelphia Eagles….

On February 1, John called to tell us he ran his marathon in 3-hours 15-minutes. It was windy and rainy but he finished just fine. This may be the first marathon he ran….I think it was across the causeway of Lake Pontchartrain. Later in the month, aunt Mary and aunt Sally came to visit mom and the three of them went to Arkansas to look up the place they lived at one time. It seems great-grandma Bouvier was an adventuress and moved to Arkansas one time. She loved it and talked grandma and grandpa Stricklett into moving down. Their stay was short lived and they soon moved back to Blair, Nebraska. Mom and her sisters wanted to find the old home place but it was so changed it was hard to distinguish. They enjoyed the trip and felt they were on or near the property so were satisfied with their efforts.

We made a trip to Shawnee to visit George and some old friends. Margaret Laricks came to visit us at George’s and we were sorry to learn she had bone-marrow cancer and was on chemo therapy. Margaret is the friend who lost her grandson in a freak accident and later that same year lost her husband. She was always a perky, upbeat woman and she was no different with her own health crisis. The cancer and treatment had been hard on her physical body but she was optimistic. It was the last time I saw Margaret.

We visited my old neighbors and friends, Gene and Rose Fowler. Rose was like a kid sister to me and we were very close. We lived across the street from each other for several years……and therefore it was easy to run back and forth to work on hobbies and projects and to enjoy “coffee time” together. When we were there this time, Janice, their daughter, had moved away from home so they were alone now. It was hard to believe the little girl I’d seen sprout up from a baby was all grown up and on her own now. Time has a way of fooling you into thinking everything stays the same when you’re away.

May rolled around and a friend told me of a strawberry patch where you could pick your own berries. I was delighted. We picked over an hour and had a crate and two quarts….the berries were unbelievably wonderful. What fun to pick your own and put them up. I put them up in freezer jam and some mashed up with sugar to use for strawberry shortcake. I ate so many my mouth got sore from the acid. I can still taste those wonderful berries…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, October 15, 2004

WELCOME TO 1981.... 

The first day of the new year was a lazy one. We had been up late because the boys were home and that meant late TV. Do any of you remember how the new year used to come in before TV? We listened on the radio as the clock struck twelve and stations from Chicago would herald in the “new” with revelers on the dance floor. We faithfully listened to WGN, WLS, WBBM, WMAQ, switching back and forth to the dance pavilions of the Aragon, Paragon and Trianon. (Spelling and names could be wrong. I checked with Rocky’s sister who lived near Chicago (early on) and my cousin, Dale, who is great at research.) Someone help us out with this.

I planned on a late dinner as Becky had to work until mid-afternoon. Mom walked over with a couple of fresh cherry pies (made from frozen cherries) and I had the main course. It was George’s favorite and Warren’s as well….they always had a fight over who got the last piece. Warren always said he liked to see George come because he knew he would get a cherry pie. We hated to see George go but it was the last day he could be with us. He left shortly after our meal. Later, John, Warren and I settled down with full stomachs and watched football. A family addiction.

The next day was spent bringing in the boxes from the garage to put the decorations away for another year and to rake leaves. John raked while Warren watched the fire. We have many oaks that don’t drop all their leaves until later in the winter and even early Spring. That means on nice spots of good weather during the winter months, we get out and rake all we can. I spent the day getting the house back in order and cleaning. When John was through with the leaves, he did his running. He continued working on the leaves the next few days and finished the job. It was certainly appreciated…..it’s a big job with so many trees.

January 8th John ran in a race at West Plains and completed it in 2-hours 15-min…no matter how bad the weather, he ran anyway. After all these years, I still don’t see how he can do all that running….I’m going to find out how many marathons he’s run since the beginning. Amazing to me how the human body can take all that jarring but women my age are running so I guess it’s all in the desire and not in the body. I love activity and work at lawn and garden….housework is not for sissies if you do it right…..so of course, I usually go to the kitchen and whip up a cake or cookies rather than go for a run. Each to his own…..

I have a friend coming for lunch today so I will stop with this. Tomorrow we will have to get serious with 1981.……

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Life returned to normal. Those are magical words. Have you ever thought your life lacked excitement and adventure? Those days are far behind me. A life-and-death adventure holds all the excitement I care for……and to come home to a good life that you identify with is pure heaven.

My mother insisted on paying our utility bills while we were gone and kept Jake at her house (who was actually John’s dog)……Becky looked after mom and helped her grocery-shop, do laundry and all the things I normally did for her….George Jr. called routinely to check on us and John did the same. So many people took it on themselves to ease the burden of being away so we could devote our time to healing and physical therapy….it would be impossible to list them all. Friends ran up gigantic phone bills to talk with us every day and then call others at home to relay news. Prayer was continually offered in our behalf.

No one comes through these times alone and due to prayer, God’s mercy, loving friends and family…..each played a major roll in bringing us back. They literally “prayed” us back home. I shall always remember the love and kindness shown to us on every level throughout those 100-days.

One unusual gift arrived in our mail at Fitzsimmons during our stay there. I don’t remember when but I do remember what. John sent Warren a package and inside was a medal he won in a race. A note along with the medal said….. “I ran the race for you and you should have the medal because you are a winner. I’m glad mom is with you because she’s real good at helping someone with a handicap….after all, she raised me.” It was one of Warren’s prized possessions.

Warren was able to cope with everything except driving. He enjoyed driving and loved his car. Big news, huh?…..I think most guys can deal with almost anything except losing their privilege to drive. I started to take him someplace and while we were still in the driveway, he said…. “I sure wish I could drive…that’s the only thing I’m going to miss with this.” I shut the ignition off, got out of the driver’s seat and opened his door….he looked at me perplexed and I said… “get out…you’re going to drive!!” He hesitated as he searched my face for an explanation…I continued…. “get out” with an authoritative motion of my hand. He grabbed his crutches and bailed out….got in the driver’s seat and away we went. His smile of satisfaction was all I ever needed. Warren had his car back!!

Thanksgiving came that year on top of an early winter snow storm. Because of that, aunt Beulah was unable to come up from Arkansas and the boys didn’t make it home. I fixed a traditional dinner and mom, Becky, Hank and the children made a full table for us to share the bounty with. The boys both called but neither could come. I wouldn’t have wanted them to with the roads frozen over. Sometimes it is better not to come……

December 4th was my first anniversary with the Highway Patrol and I made coffee cakes for both crews to celebrate. On the Saturday following, we decorated the house for Christmas and started working on cards and gifts. I preferred making things for gifts to be more personal. Evenings and week-ends were spent stitching. Church activities pick up in December and Warren and I both sang in the choir so the annual cantata was always the highlight for us during that time.

Christmas day arrived and later in the morning we got a call from uncle Alfred’s doctor in Mountain Home. He passed away at 9:00am that morning. Although we had been to see him several times after coming home from Fitz we weren’t able to go see him while we were dealing with Warren’s medical crisis. He was well up in his 80’s and he just got to the point that he didn’t think life was worth it anymore. The doctor put a big guilt trip on me and I carried it for quite a while. From his point of view, uncle Alfred was a neglected senior, and he was personally glad he was gone and in a better place. In that, we agreed. I knew uncle Alfred was in a better place.

And so, on Christmas day, one family member went to heaven and we hosted aunt Beulah, John, George Jr., Becky and family and mom for dinner and gifts. It was bitter-sweet but still, a nice day to leave this life and be in the company of the Savior. The following days were busy planning uncle Alfred’s funeral, seeing George Jr. off and going back to Arkansas for the funeral.

Dale arrived the day before the funeral but had to go back to the St. Louis area to work, so he left that evening. Uncle Emil and aunt Mardelle, their son Raymond, mom, John, Warren and I were there for the funeral the next day and it was short and fitting. Uncle Alfred was a quiet man and a simple man. He didn’t want a lot of fussing but did want his funeral to be in the Jehovah Witness church. We made sure his request was granted and he was laid to rest on the 29th of December. Alfred Marins Andersen was born March 12,1892 and died December 25,1980. He was 88-years old at his time of death.

The last notation I made in my 1980 journal follows:

Thank you God for helping us through this year. As I look back over the months I can only praise you for your mercy, love and strength. For all the wonderful people we met this year I thank you..…for one moment in time….. our lives touched theirs…. and we will never be the same. We tenderly leave 1980 to memory and these pages…….as we look ahead to the new year, it is without fear…..for we know You have already written the pages……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


In conclusion of our time spent at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital I am sharing four poems written while I was there. Having read the account these last few days on my site, they may hold more understanding now. The following poem is a reminder that God always has a plan underway if we look for it. He works best through our adversities. The following was written April 13, 1980


My life is made up of many roads.
Some well worn
I cling to them.
They are security
I say.
God in His wisdom calls them ruts.
Gently leads me by the hand
like Peter
to places
I would not choose to go.
It is always on the unfamiliar road
that we are more aware
Thank you Father for making new roads in my life.

May 18th 1980

Most of us have trouble asking for help when we need it - much easier to give help than accept it. Long weeks living in and around a hospital community changes old attitudes and habits….we come forth realizing our priorities are different. For the patient and family things are rarely the same….


It is in reaching for help
I find I can give it.
In losing my life
I find I can live it.

God can’t give till He’s taken away!
No made over messes
and second-hand junk
No extra parts from a
broken down trunk.
He removes the old
and creates brand new
He loves you too much
to simply “make do.”

It is in reaching for help
I find I can give it,
In losing my life
I find I can live it.
May 25, 1980

In long unexpected absence from home sooner or later our mind drifts back to scenes we have enjoyed, and stored, to pull out later and revisit when we’re homesick. One morning in the fall I had been captivated by rays of sunlight filtering down through the trees in our back woods. The density of the leaves and the spikes of sunlight were a backdrop for the most beautiful spider web near where I stood. The dew was hanging in droplets along silver threads so intricate one had to wonder how a spider could weave such beauty. Nor would he ever suspect it was viewed and admired….and remembered.


Spikes of sun slant down
between the trees
To light a dew-kissed
spider web
And change it into silver
filigree of ancient art.
The molding leaves are
quiet and deep
And provide an offering
of fragrance
Even now, though long since dead.

When God’s light touches
the webs
I’ve made in error,
I pray they too will illuminate
into a lovely design
of order
and purpose.
And perchance as I am dead
and molding
That my fragrance would linger on
to please another
as he walks along
this path.
May 27, 1980

There is no prejudice in a hospital…all the sick and ailing pull for each other and work together. The families form a bond of sympathy and encouragement. No one is superior and we are all needy even though sometimes we need a lighthearted reminder.


Jesus picked fishermen
and men who planted seeds,
Tax collectors, Pharisees,
and men with every need.

Prostitutes and lepers
He loved them all the same,
Thieves and shady characters
He gave a brand new name.

Why He picked the ones he did
is more than I can see,
Imagine my surprise when
He even picked me!!

I hope some of what I’ve shared will lighten your day wherever you are and give you hope that God is at work in your life……even when the road is steep and you fear you travel alone…..He is there….and He loves you……yes, even you and me.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


Our flight back was pretty much routine. We made the usual stops to pick up and drop off patients at the different military sites. When we landed in Fort Leonard Wood, John and uncle Tom were there to meet us. They helped us with the baggage and soon we were on the ride back to Willow Springs. Uncle Tom and aunt Inabelle had driven from Virginia to visit mom and hopefully to see us if we made it home in time. They were on their usual trek back to Blair for the family reunion.

When we unloaded our luggage, we went up to mom’s….she had a wonderful supper waiting and it was a treat to sit down to one of her home cooked meals. One of mom’s talent’s was her cooking……she could make anything taste like a feast or banquet. George Jr. had driven down to see us and we had a nice family reunion of our own that evening.

We had a few days of visiting before George Jr. had to go back to Shawnee; John rode on the back of a friend’s motorcycle all the way back to New Orleans and mom and the Powell’s left for Nebraska. Finally, after all those weeks we were alone. It had been a long, long road to travel back but we were home!!

Life took on some regularity for us. I worked my three days a week and Warren found jobs to do at home. He got around quite well on his crutches and had switched to the forearm type rather than the underarm type. He had extremely strong upper body strength as well as the muscles in his leg. It was hard as a rock from the duty of having to work for two. He didn’t show the ravages of his long ordeal and he was feeling great. He continually pushed himself to do more.

We continued with his therapy at L. Wood. We walked in one day and there was Pam Prentice….our PT girl from Fitzsimmons. She was smiling and said her husband was transferred to “Fort Lost-In-The-Woods” so she put in to come there too. From now on she would be his PT girl again. She was very happy with the way Warren had progressed and continued to push his limits.

Mom called from Blair to tell us that she and her three sisters and uncle Tom were on their way to Colorado to see some sights. We were glad they were able to get away and enjoy some time together. They were all retired so they could travel and enjoy the company as well as the scenery. The Stricklett’s were a close family unit and often took trips together. It would be some time before mom came home.

Warren was notified that he was to fly back to Fitzsimmon’s on September 17th to get his permanent prosthesis. It was ready and he would need a few days there to get used to it, then he would fly home. I didn’t go this time because he was doing great and able to handle whatever came up. Had I not been working I would have but I knew he was fully capable now and I didn’t want to ask for more time off since the Patrol had been so good to me. He agreed……

He was home in a few days and after exercising and walking with the prosthesis it continued to be more of a problem than a solution. It was like dragging an anchor and didn’t help with his walking. When we were in Fitz, there was a young man who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident, while on leave from the military. His name was Gravell. He would take unbelievable strides with his crutches and you could hear him coming down the hall….tap, thunk…tap, thunk, tap, thunk…..we used to stand at our door and watch him come and go like a gazelle.

Warren said, “I want to be able to get around on my crutches like Gravelle does.” He worked and practiced until he could and was as graceful. He could sit, get up out of a chair, walk……with the greatest of ease. Because the bone was really longer than the flesh on his stump the prosthesis rubbed the scar tissue raw and it would bleed. After several days of that and Warren’s frustration mounting….I said, “Take it off. It’s worse now than when you were on crutches. You don’t want more surgery and this is never going to toughen up because it’s scar tissue. You don’t have to have two legs to impress me and everyone knows the leg is gone anyway….we don’t need this to deal with.” He took it off and we put it in the garage……….our journey was over.

I spent 100-days even, in the hospitals with Warren. Those days were some of the most gratifying of my life. Taking care of my own husband to relieve the orderlies….going for meds, linens or to report someone needing help down the hall……the many visits, jokes, singing and laughter in our rooms as the young guys flocked in to visit with us……one of the medics playing his guitar after he got off duty…..the heartfelt goodbyes, knowing we would probably not be seeing one another again… it would be impossible to forget the camaraderie, devotion to duty or the friendships made.

People might have looked at us and felt pity because of the missing leg. They would be wrong. We didn’t lose anything……..we found a lot!!!

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, October 11, 2004


We were taken by medical transportation to the hospital where Becky was waiting. Chaplain Farr and some of the other medics were with her and we had a good visit with them before leaving. On the ride home we feasted our eyes on familiar sights and exchanged news with Becky. When we pulled into our driveway the yard was full of people waiting for us. Becky got the word out that we were coming home for a short period of time and they gathered expectantly. Some men from the church built a ramp so Warren could come and go with the wheelchair and crutches.

I still feel the excitement as we got out of the car and greeted everyone. Few people ever get to witness love and affection on such a grand scale. It will always be one of my favorite memories of human kindness to another. Joy reigned supreme. To our amazement, friends from Florida were even here. They were on their way to points West and called to see how we were. Of course, Becky took the call because we weren’t home yet. When she told them we would be here the next day, they decided to stop over to see us.

Understandably the next few days were spent getting used to our home surroundings again and having visitors call. Our own bed felt so good after sleeping at the Guest House so long. Warren was able to be up more all the time in his wheel chair and I continued dressing the stump with the surgical scrub and Betadine, then wrapping it in elastic bandages as I’d been shown. He was up most of the day but did rest some in the afternoon. When we went to church the following Sunday they had “Welcome Home Warren and Esther….We Love You” on the sign out front. Needless to say we were very touched by the message.

Captain McKee, from the Highway Patrol, came to visit and told me I could go back to work when I was ready. I had written to him from Fitzsimmons and told him I couldn’t leave Warren until he was able to come back with me…..and I told him I would understand if he needed to hire someone in my place. (I knew our “stay” was going to be weeks and weeks.) He told me he read my letter to the guys I worked with and “to a man, they wanted to wait for Esther to come back.” I was amazed at their generosity and grateful to have my job back.

Warren was able to get around and take care of himself during the day. He had the wheel chair and crutches so he could trade off if one became tiresome. I went back to work a few days after getting home and mom was next door so she looked in on him several times a day. He got along fine……mom had supper ready when I came home the first day. I was working part time….Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. It was good to see the guys again and be in their light-hearted company….life was getting back to some sense of normalcy and time flicked by.

July 16th we went back to Leonard Wood and checked back in until morning when we would fly back to Fitz. We got to see Chaplain Farr who was in the hospital himself for sinus surgery…we went to his room and he was surprised when we walked in. It was very good to see him again. We went by ICU and saw all the kids that took care of us….they were happy to see how well Warren had come along. I took a cab to the Guest House to sleep for we would have an early flight out.

I was up at 4:15am and got ready to go to the hospital, called a cab and got there by 5:30am….Warren and I went down to the cafeteria for breakfast and got our luggage together for the bus ride to the airport. We got there in time to see our flight come in. Like a lone eagle in the sky it suddenly made a steep decline and taxied a short distance on the runway before stopping near the people and luggage.

We were loaded and on our way before 8:00am and made stops at Omaha and Manhattan, KS., before landing at Buckley Field in Denver. We were fed a steak dinner on the plane and went by bus back to Fitz. As soon as Warren was settled I went immediately to the Guest House to acquire a room….I got the last one…a double. The next day Mrs. Johnson, the manager, had a single for me with a private bath. I appreciated it more than she knew.

July 29th Warren finally went to surgery for his left Carpal tunnel. It went well and he came back with his arm in a sling. When he was able to get up after a few days we went to the prosthesis shop for fitting. Warren got tangled up in his crutches with so much dry powder on the floor and fell, hurting the hand that he had surgery on. That set us back a few days while we waited for the swelling to go down. They packed his hand in ice and we just had to wait it out.

The prosthesis had been revised several times for a better fit and Warren had a lot of coaching in physical therapy. He was doing well enough they allowed us to come home a second time. He would now have his therapy at Leonard Wood. We told all the staff and the patients goodbye and it was very sad. We had grown so fond of everyone…..still….home was calling us back and we were anxious to go…………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, October 10, 2004


Sunday shall be a day to write something inspirational and give me one day a week to rest from the ongoing story of our family. It is always good to change gears and think about something else to refresh the mind. I choose Sunday to do that. I have always said I am but a Scribe for God….His thoughts and words flick through my mind wherever I am…. and give added lessons to what is going on around me. He dictates and I write. The lesson may be for someone else as well as for me…..so I’m always glad to pass on what I’m given. To enjoy or throw aside….it is for your pleasure. The following was written after a walk in the Fall…………many years ago.


Was there ever a day so perfect in hue?
One you’d like back as soon as it’s through?
Sagging oak trees with acorns aground, and
Leaves that are falling with whispering sound?

Up on a knoll I see sumac and rocks while
Down on the hillside are dying wood phlox,
There on a dead tree a woodpecker cries
Till the sound echo’s back and finally dies.

The woods are waiting for one last foray,
One more glorious October day, when
An old ghost sandman will ride over the skies
To sprinkle his sleep where each leaf lies.

Sleep well, little trees, no need to fear,
For Nature will wake you early next year.
Your branches now bare will surely bring
Renewed hope of life when you wake up next Spring.

I hope wherever you are today that your October is beautiful and you are out to enjoy it. Breathe it in with all it’s glory…..enough to keep you when winds of winter come to call……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, October 09, 2004


April 26th was a banner day for both of us. Warren’s brother and wife from Walla Walla, WA. came to visit and spent a couple of days with us. We were able to get Warren out of the hospital for a car ride by putting the wheel chair in the trunk and Don lifting him in the seat. We drove all around the Denver area and saw the sights, stopped for ice-cream and then came back to Fitz. It was a wonderful interlude to our long stretches of days in the hospital. They stayed at a motel and took me back to the Guest House each night.

Don was able to take Warren to physical therapy a couple of times and was impressed with the therapy room. The day finally came when they had to leave and, of course, we hated to see them go. Warren was about ready to be fit for a prosthesis and was anxious to be up on his feet again. Dr. Campbell took the traction off of the stump and said the skin had healed over the end of the bone so in a couple more days he would be ready for fitting.

April 29th was the first time Warren got to go down to the cafeteria with me to eat. It looked good to see him at a table again eating his food and I’m sure it was a mental boost for him as well. From now on I would get up early enough to take Warren down to the main floor to eat with me and then back upstairs until time for PT. The last day of April came and went; Dr. Campbell said tomorrow we would finally get to fit Warren with crutches. Whereas the wheel chair had been a big step up at one time, now we were anxious to get on to the crutches.

One of the situations in a military hospital is meeting people and getting acquainted…then later, they are released and gone. It was almost a daily thing to wave goodbye to some and say hello to others. It was always sad to see them go for a part of you went with them each time. We met some wonderful people while we were at Fitzsimmons…Leonard Wood as well.

Chaplain Adamson asked us to visit with a man who was in for cancer treatment that was terminal. He had been in construction over in Arabia when it was discovered. Chaplain Adamson told us his wife wouldn’t come see him she was so angry over the cancer and that he had recently become a born again Christian. He was at peace but the Chaplain thought it would do him good to visit with us. We went to see him on the second floor which we knew was the terminal cancer floor. He was cordial to us and told us his story….we told him ours.

We went back to see him often and once he was able to come to our room in a wheel chair. He died later in the summer and we were sorry to hear it but knew that he was at last in a place that knew no pain. He died without his family. We were asked by one of the doctor’s if we would allow a medical student to interview us because of our positive attitude. He was working up a paper on how faith helps patients through hard times. We agreed and the med student told us that our file from Leonard Wood had intrigued him. The file told that we were born again Christians and that because of our witness in the hospital and the miraculous recovery it had made an impact on the whole hospital…..staff, medical, patients, mail room and so on. They had the whole documentation of our stay there and the outcome. It made him want to interview us to see how we kept on track with so much against us.

It made us feel kind of silly, to tell you the truth. It wasn’t a brave, spiritual reaction to the circumstances. It happened and our faith worked because God is real…..and because we know our life is in His hands. The outcome is up to Him and we found peace in that. Not much more to say. There comes a time in everyone’s life when you’re up against odds that don’t look too good….if your faith is real…it kicks in. If you’re an imposter…..forget it.

Warren was unable to have good use of either hand and was tested for Carpal tunnel….it tested positive. Dr. Hopkinson couldn’t get him into surgery for a couple of weeks and he thought it do us both good to go back home for a little R&R before he corrected the problem. The head nurse taught me how to dress Warren’s stump and wrap it in elastic bandages so it wouldn’t cut the circulation off. They boxed up huge amounts of wraps, cotton, Betadine and pads. We were to fly out on June 5th so I packed up and we told everyone goodbye for a while….. until our return.

We were loaded onto the bus going to Buckley Field and were airborne at 11:30am. We flew to Offut Airbase at Omaha and on to Forbes in Topeka. We set down on the airfield at Leonard Wood by 3:45pm…….back in Missouri…..and home. The very sound of it brings joy to any vagabond heart……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Friday, October 08, 2004


The day of surgery was on Wednesday, April 16th. I arrived at the hospital early as we weren’t sure what the schedule was. Warren wasn’t given any breakfast and was ready to go when they notified the staff on our floor. We waited most of the day and finally at 4:30pm they came for him. I stayed in his room during surgery and it was after 7:30pm when they told me he was in the recovery room and doing OK. He didn’t get back to the room until after 10:00pm and I left about a half hour later to catch the Duty Ride back to the Guest House.

I got ready for bed and knew I would really sleep well this night. I had been at the hospital over 16-hours since morning. The worst was surely over now…hopefully. Once the stump healed we would be able to be fit for a prosthesis. I fell asleep thinking it wouldn’t be long until we could go home.

The next day was a little more relaxed. I slept later and called mom and a few family members. I wanted them to know the good news when there was some. We were so far away no one could drop in to visit and Missouri seemed light years away. Dr. Campbell came in and told us everything looked good ….Warren was pretty woozy and icky most of the day. He slept a lot and I wrote letters and kept my journal. I also had some needlework to work on when he slept so time was not a burden to me.

The days passed while Warren healed. He eventually got into a wheel chair for most of each day and started his physical therapy. The young therapist who came to talk to him about it said, “I’m long on motivation and short on sympathy. I want you to be serious about this because it’s your ticket home. The sooner you get down to hard work, the sooner you can go.” Warren was always a “pleaser” and liked to do well so he knocked himself out at these sessions and she was always amazed at his progress.

We worked out in a large room down on the main floor where every kind of exercise equipment was assembled for men to rehabilitate. Most were young guys that had met their injuries while they were on leave or just “horsing around.” Some were retired types like Warren who through no fault of their own had major health problems and were joined with the group of “kids.” There was mutual compatibility, for each found themselves there for whatever reason……..why they got there was not important to any of them….getting out was. I loved the way they rallied around each other and applauded when someone painfully performed his best effort to do what the therapist wanted.

During those times, day after day, we met a lot of really great guys who were mostly amputees. They worked so hard to go up steps, to learn to sit down, to get up, to walk, to use a prosthesis for an arm and hand…learning to button with it and do the simple tasks required for daily living. In the process everyone became very well acquainted and a lot of the kids would come by our room during the afternoon and evening. They were pretty lonely for the most part and Warren and I were like resident parents so they liked to sit and gab. Warren always had a hearty laugh that was undeniable once you heard it. His laughter at their stories and jokes would sound up and down the hall until everyone wanted to come see what was so funny. When he laughed you just couldn’t help yourself!! You had to laugh along whether you knew why or not. We were all a captive group until well enough to leave and so everyone made the best of it.

Warren had one last surgery on his stump to close the skin over the thigh bone. All of the de-breeding and such had taken some of the skin with it until the bone was longer than the flesh. They didn’t want to do surgery on the stump again but they had to and then he was in traction for some time with weights attached to the skin pulling the skin over the bone. He wouldn’t need grafting so this time was the last. Technically, we were finally ahead of schedule with the healing.

On the day of Warren’s last surgery I began feeling bad while he was gone and had to leave. I came down with a virus that had been going around our floor…East Wing 5. I walked back to the Guest House and went to bed. I had a bad night and the next day stayed in bed. I had vomited until I had dry heaves and I called the Wing at the hospital to have them tell Warren I had the flu and couldn’t come. He got Dr. Campbell to order me some medicine and had it sent over.

The cleaning lady found me at 1:00pm and told the manager, Mrs. Johnson, that I was ill. She brought me some Sprite and I was able to keep it down…a good friend from back home had a sister who lived in Denver and came to my rescue. She bundled me up and took me to her home and fed me until I was strong enough to go back to Fitzsimmons. I had talked with Warren on the phone so that had eased my mind about being away from him.

I shall always be grateful for angels unaware who appear in your need and give aide and comfort. What do you do when someone has done so much and you are unable to give anything in return? Gratitude is the best gift and if it is possible….find someone else to help later on……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, October 07, 2004


My first morning to wake up at Fitzsimmons was a surprise. The date was April 11, 1980 and I had packed clothes for our season at home. When I glanced out the window, big, fluffy flakes were coming down and there was about 2-inches of snow on the ground. Back home the redbuds and dogwood were blooming, along with all of our Spring flowers…the hills were green. Since I had to walk everywhere I went, I was naturally concerned for a moment but I made it to the hospital just fine. I went to the cafeteria first, after getting a “pass” to give me the privilege of eating in the hospital which was handy and the prices were reasonable. I had a quick breakfast so I could get up to Warren’s room before the doctor’s made their rounds.

By 7:00am I was in his room but things weren’t too good. The flight made the infection kick up and his fever was back. His blood pressure was up and the I.V. was back. He looked pretty worn out. His doctor came in and briefed us on his intentions….first thing was to give us a better room so we needed to gather his things up. He hoped to close the stump the first of next week but it depended on being free of the fever and bringing his blood pressure down. For now, at least, the better room was a bonus.

The day was spent with routine visits by the hospital personnel and went quickly. Warren fell asleep before 9:00pm so I was able to catch a ride back to the Guest House….lone women were encouraged to catch the “Duty Ride” for safety so I found out where and how to avail the service. I didn’t relish the 6-block walk in the dark again.

The next day I found things better when I arrived…they had removed the I.V. and Warren looked considerably sharper and was in good spirits. I think the long flight took a lot out of him the day before. I stayed by his bed the whole day again and was surprised and happy to see aunt Beulah come walking in our room with her brother and his wife. It was so good to see someone from home. Aunt Beulah was visiting her brother, who lived in Denver, so they decided to come over and see how we were. Their visit was much appreciated by both of us.

The phone calls began catching up with us and we had several calls from family and friends…..with the normal routine required to keep Warren comfortable and healing, the day went by in a hurry. Again, I caught the Duty Ride back to my room and went to the laundry area in the basement to wash a load. I was beginning to get used to things and feel more at home.

It was Sunday the next day and the brunch in the cafeteria was very good. I was becoming familiar with the lady that took the money and the servers as we became used to seeing each other on a regular basis. It was good to exchange smiles and a few words with someone since I usually ate alone. I had to laugh when I came down the line with my tray and read a sign in front of the fried bologna that said… “God will get you if you take more than two slices….” I asked the server why bologna was such a treat and he said he didn’t know but the patients and staff loved fried bologna with their eggs for breakfast. I didn’t take any (after all, there was ham, bacon and sausage) but I did enjoy the humor. It was welcome around so much serious stuff going on.

This same routine went on for several days as they waited for Warren to rid himself of the infection. We met the doctor assigned to him….Dr. Campbell. He seemed like he was on top of things and we liked him at once. We also met a Dr. Rich who stopped by. They are hoping to take Warren to surgery tomorrow. We got our first mail today and since the staff was short today, they asked if I would give Warren his bath and wash his hair. I readily agreed. Later, we took his first ride in a wheel chair. It was such a pretty day, the nurse said it would do us good to get a little fresh air.

I can still see the scene as it was then. We wheeled out to an area on the roof-top that was like a patio area. The mountains were white against a sky so blue it hurt your eyes to look at it. The snow glistened so we had to squint. Somehow, just being out of the building was uplifting…..life seemed so normal outside…planes going over, traffic below, familiar sounds……hearing a bird sing was music to our ears. Tomorrow, Warren would have the final surgery to close the stump. We were both glad that we were near the end of the surgical part of his rehabilitation. After that, we could begin the long journey that would eventually take us back home……

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Just a note: we will be gone today to take Becky to Springfield for a visit to the “tooth fairy.” Now that she’s a big girl, her tooth fairy has become a surgeon who stops pain and havoc…..hopefully without taking the tooth. Now, she’s happy if she keeps it rather than putting it in a glass for money. Speaking of that, our kids used to get “small change” in the glass………we were shocked to learn most kids would look at that now and say, “ Hey!! That tooth fairy only left me 35-cents! I’m gonna call my lawyer.” Well……..so I exaggerated a bit……but you know what I mean. Times continue to change…..and “small change” is no longer sufficient.

Be back tomorrow with more on Fitzsimmons.
Have a great day….

Essentially Esther

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Once everything was in readiness the DC-9 took off and gave us quite a thrill. I guess my eyes showed my surprise at how quickly we were airborne. A young troop was sitting by me and he said, “Mam….these Med-Evacs take off with a bang. They have to get airborne fast in hostile territory and these pilots are quite good at what they do. We call them Medical Jocky’s………they pride themselves in getting up and out, fast.” I’m sure we were at cruising altitude within seconds…..it seemed we climbed straight up forever before the plane leveled off and began it’s normal flight.

I watched the hospital fall from view and the hills and trees, below. Once at proper altitude the engines were at peace with their environment. We flew from Fort Wood to Fort Riley, Kansas with the same altitude drop and sudden landing as we experienced in “take-off” before. From the window I could see them loading more patients to go to Fitzsimmons, as we were. As soon as the last person was on board we took off with the same sudden precision as the first time.

I was impressed by a Med-Evac Nurse that efficiently passed from patient to patient, administering medication at the proper time for each. She had a distinct English accent and she told someone within hearing range of me that she was with the RAF from England. There was a program where medical personnel were traded back and forth for training in her field of duty. She loved being in the States and would be going back to England when her tour was up. Of course, her uniform indicated her English background as well as her conversation.

We landed at the Denver airport where we were slowly and carefully loaded on buses to go to the hospital. On the ride over, I was in a bus with every kind of medical need imaginable. One woman (a dependent) was wearing a turban covering her bald head. She had cancer and was coming to “Fitz” for further treatment. There were amputees, disfigured that were coming for plastic surgery, a man with no chin….eaten away with cancer….internal needs and ones coming for open heart surgery. There were only a couple, like myself, who were coming as caretakers and support.

Fitzsimmons Army Hospital had a rich and proud history. It was so named after First Lieutenant William Thomas Fitzsimmons, Medical Officer’s Reserve Corps, the first American officer to die as a result of enemy action in WW1. He was born April 18,1889 in Burlington, Kansas. He received his doctor of medicine degree in 1912 at KU….Lawrence, Kansas. He served as a medical officer to the American Red Cross in Europe, during 1914-1915. When he returned to America he applied for a commission in the Army Reserve and practiced medicine in Kansas City.

When the U.S. entered WW1 he was called to active duty. Volunteering for overseas duty he left Kansas City on June 14, 1917 and was one of the first American medical officers to arrive in Europe. He was assigned to a U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 5, which was attached to the British forces near Dannes-Camiers, France.

On the evening of September 4, 1917 he and a friend were just walking back from dinner when they both agreed the beautiful, clear and cloudless night was a good night for a bombing attack. Less than 5-minutes later, about 11pm, an aerial bomb struck his tent, killing him instantly. He was 28-years old at the time.

Less than a year later, the hospital which was to bear his name was established and on July, 1920, the hospital became known as Fitzsimmons General Hospital, by direction of the War Department.

The hospital has undergone many changes, good and bad since then, and when we were unloaded from the Army bus, I was staying close to Warren’s gurney because I didn’t want to get separated from him. One of the orderlies told me he was being taken to a room and I would need to go to Information and get my room reserved at the Guest House. I married Warren after he was retired from the military so it was my first induction to operate with military thinking. I could see it would be up to me to get myself situated and I’d better get with the program. Of course I was feeling inadequate but I also knew I didn’t have time to humor my fears.

With some frustration and determination I managed to get my luggage, get to the Guest House, which was a hefty walk from the hospital, and get back to the hospital to find Warren. At first he was out in the bay area until the Officer in Charge came around, lifted the covers and took a look………..he yelled at some orderlies to “get him out of here in a separate room….he’s septic.” We ended up in an inner room…no windows, more like a broom closet. It was a far cry from the penthouse at Leonard Wood but my intent was to get the job done….no matter what.

We looked at each other, took in a deep breath, and he said, “Boy!! I’m sure glad you’re here.” I put a fake smile on my face and said, “me too.” That part was true. I wanted to be with Warren ……..but the accommodations left a little to be desired. The afternoon was spent with a parade of medics, orderlies, and nurses who asked the same questions over and over. Necessary, of course. After the flight out and the scramble to get settled, we were pretty well spent. I stayed with him quite late and then walked back to the Guest House. Sleep came quickly…..in the middle of my prayers…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, October 04, 2004


A small detour before I pick up where I left off on my continuing blog story. It struck me odd that yesterday (Sunday) we were at Fort Leonard Wood again. Rocky’s grandson from California is there, training on heavy equipment before he is shipped out to either Germany or Japan. He is the middle child of Rocky’s youngest daughter and husband who live in CA. They have two other children, a grown son and a daughter in high school. Since his immediate family has been so far away for the time he’s been in service, we thought a little “family time” might be in order.

We called Rocky’s other daughter to see if she and her family could go with us. It’s a long drive to our town from Neosho but they arrived in good time and we loaded up the mini-van and headed for the Fort. With security so tight now the gates and guards are in place again. When we arrived at the building to meet Zach, he was waiting out front in his camouflage, fatigue uniform.

The difference from our last meeting was amazing. He arrived there a few weeks ago with a bad summer cold and was pretty miserable. His mother had driven from CA. to the Fort, alone, determined to see him when he arrived from Boot Camp in Texas. We drove up to meet them both and had a good day. Of course, his mother is back in CA. now. He looked very “military” and we were exceedingly proud of him. Good for Zach.

Yesterday we drove around the Fort to show everyone how large it is and where the main buildings were. The hospital is still the sentinel of the area…..it can be seen from any where on Base. Having written about our ordeal in (1980) this past week in my blog it was certainly a step back in time for me. On the way home after dropping Zach off at his building, we drove south past the airport, where my story will pick up again tomorrow.

I am a person who is constantly amazed at “timing.” What are the odds I would be writing a story of our hospital stay in Fort Leonard Wood, and leaving on a Med-Evac….at the precise time I was back on Base yesterday visiting Rocky’s grandson? As we drove past the airport, I could almost hear the engines idling as we boarded that day….and see the stretchers being loaded on the plane, with personnel aptly getting each patient strapped in for flight.

The respect and honor paid to these old veterans who were now in the hands of young medics was very touching. They handled them as a mother would care for a child ……..though generations and wars apart, there was a bond that sealed them together. Their years and loyalty had been spent on the same country they loved.

Zach and his generation are far away from WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and all the other wars where these old guys fought and spent much of their youth…but soldiering will go on from generation to generation….and only a veteran knows how precious freedom is. He has seen it all….and too often, he has done it all.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Sunday, October 03, 2004


The next day Warren got the IV’s out. It was one more step towards being free of all the necessary support that he needed for so long. He was completely unplugged now and operating on his own. However he still had to go back to surgery one last time before we were to fly out the next day.

Mom and Becky came back with our pastor’s wife to visit since we would be leaving soon. It was good to see them; I’d only seen mom one other time since the ordeal started. We would be away for several weeks so I was glad Becky would be home to check on her until our return. Mom and Vera left late afternoon and Becky and I went to eat. Becky was going to stay with me one last night so she could drive our car home the next day.

We said goodbye to a lot of the vendors and staff that we had been a part of for so many days…..we stopped by ICU…. it was bitter and sweet. They had become very special to us and I knew we would never see the same group of people in one place again. Life doesn’t linger long around a hospital. The patients who get better pick up where they left off and go on…..the others either die or have to go to an assisted living facility. Friendships are made quickly but briefly. Waiting rooms bring strangers together like “ships passing in the night” and then you never see them again.

When we were in ICU for so long, I had each of the medics that took care of Warren sign their name in the journal I kept and long afterwards we would look at those names and wonder what ever became of them. Many had come in from Illinois as I mentioned before….for their 2-week Army duty as Reservists…and many of them were promoted and went to other hospitals around the country. We always enjoyed hearing about them whenever we went back to Fort Leonard Wood for check-ups or happened to bump into some of them at the PX or Commissary.

Becky and I spent our last night together and we talked back and forth from our beds until sleep finally silenced our thoughts. We were up and awake early the next morning as I had to check my luggage and eat by 6:30am. Ambulance attendants came to Warren’s room to take him to the airport and I was taken by bus. When we were loaded I looked out the window, trying to find Becky to wave at her….and when I discovered where she was….there was a crowd around her….the cleaning lady, Chaplin Farr, several of the ICU kids….some other medics from the last room…all waving and smiling.

The bus followed the ambulance and I waved as long as I could see them……we arrived at the airport and the plane was waiting. There were several others to be loaded and then the dependents boarded and were seated. I sat across from Warren who was strapped in to a bunk-like sling. He was cheerful and anxious to be on the way…….for ahead, at Fitzsimmons, he would begin his road back to what would be a normal life again…..but different.

As long as I shall live I will never experience another space of time to equal those days at Fort Leonard Wood Hospital. It was a time of greatness that only God can produce, with so many and in so small a frame. To all those dear souls I pray they are loved and treated as well on their journey…wherever that takes them.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther