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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

JUST A NOTE........ 

To all of you who have been inquiring about John and his family, they are safe. He was finally able to get an audio out on his blog site. Things are in a mess down there but they feel abundantly fortunate when they see the damage others are facing. There is a great deal of uncertainty for all of those who find themselves in an unthinkable situation. I just pray the best comes out of all of it. Without water, sewer systems and electricity life is pretty miserable for everyone involved.

Rocky, Becky and I leave for Springfield tomorrow morning very early. It’s an 80-mile drive and we have to be at the Imaging Building by 7:30am. Time for a routine check to make sure everything is OK with Rocky’s brain since the surgery 16-months ago. Then he has a dental appointment at 10:30, an EEG at the Outpatient Clinic at Cox South Hospital at 12:30pm and Becky has to see her Orthopedic Surgeon about her leg at 3:30pm. I’m hoping to find time for lunch and some necessary shopping before coming home.

I’ll try and make it back by Thursday……….have a great Wednesday, everybody.



To all of you wondering about John and his family…..I don’t know anymore than the rest of you. He went silent yesterday after (I’m assuming) the power went out. That meant no phones and after so long a time I doubt if he could recharge his cell phone. I’m not gifted when it comes to electronic communications so it may be some other reason. I am sure he will let us know what’s going on as soon as he can get word out. If I hear anything at all I will let you know. We have high hopes that his property made it through with a only a few repairs in the future…….however, that is pure speculation. I can't call in to any of their numbers. Stay tuned to his blog site and if not that, I’ll post any updates from him……………I now continue with Bear’s story.

When we arrived at Fort Leonard Wood we had the prescription filled that might help Bear’s speech. Once through with that, he wanted to go see Maj. Ellen Summers to thank her for her help with his diabetes…….she was speechless with the news that he had a fast moving brain cancer and he wanted to tell her goodbye. As she struggled to take it in, he again, told her not to feel bad….that he was going to heaven…..and he told her his dream. Her eyes filled unashamedly and she hugged him goodbye…..wishing all of us well.

After that, he wanted to see Maj. Vanatta who was in charge of ICU. She had taken care of him when he lost his leg and under her guidance brought him back to the living. We had all grown fond of her and the “kids” who worked under her. He told her why he had come and that he wanted to thank her for all she had done for him……..and to tell her goodbye. Military people live on the brink of loss every day. Most of them are ‘toughened’ into the fact but an old retiree who was taking time to come by and say goodbye isn’t something they are used to. The ICU staff had grown very close to him, Becky and myself because of his amazing recovery from necrotizing faceitis and the loss of his leg. We had spent days and weeks with her and her staff so it was like family. He told her of his dream and it was well received. The glow on his face told her it wasn’t false bravery, but faith.

And so it went. Everyone who had done anything for Bear around the hospital was visited and told the dream as he thanked them and said goodbye. It was very difficult for Becky and myself and for the people he talked to…….but he was carrying all of us along with his excitement about the journey he would soon take. We ended up at the PX with all the clerks we had come to know so well…….as they observed one lady crying, they gathered around to see what was the matter. They would relate to each other and get close enough for Bear’s personal goodbye….he was hugged by each as he told them he would see him again one day.

The next few days were quiet. Becky insisted on doing the yard work that had been ignored since the first sad news came. I think it was a way of easing Bear’s mind about it and it gave her a way to work off her anxiety. The next Sunday as Bear shook the preacher’s hand after church he told him about his dream and that he only had a short time to live and would like him to preach his funeral. Bro. Gil stood amazed and said, “Well you are sure showing me something about accepting death, Bear. I have never known anyone who has the presence about it that you do. I’m impressed, very much…….(he was a young pastor)…I will be honored to preach your funeral.” Bear had one more request. Bro. Gil, the music director, and the youth director sang as a trio and they sang one song in particular that Bear loved. It was…Day Star. Bro. Gil said he would see to it that they sang anything he wanted…and he would see him later about plans when the time was right.

On Veteran’s Day, I called good friends of ours because Bear wanted Bob to be a pall bearer for him. Bob and Donna and their children, Debbie and Robbie had been good friends for many years. Bob came by that afternoon as we were raking and burning leaves and we came in the house for a visit. Bear laughed and told him he was picking all of the good, strong young guys he could find to be his pallbearers because he didn’t want anyone dropping him. I chimed in and said…. “Yah, he’s already helping you out…..he got rid of one leg so he wouldn’t weigh so much.” We had always laughed about setbacks in our married life and that’s the way we chose to live it out. I thought of the old song so many times….. Laughing on the outside and crying on the inside…..that was pretty much the way it went. For Bear’s sake, I didn’t want to cry and mope around. After all, he was the one who had the death sentence and great attitude…..how could I be anything less?

The next day we were to be at the hospital at Fort Leonard Wood to see the Managed Care Nurse and she got us right in to see Dr. Hackett, the neurologist. He had written orders written up on the spot for us to see a Dr. Ferguson, in Springfield, that very day. We would have to drive from the Fort to Springfield, immediately. I drove down I44 and found his office building…..he had stayed after hours to see us. We were directed to the hospital where he was waiting and Bear was admitted on the spot……with preparations made for a biopsy the next day. After Bear was settled for the night I drove on home to take care of things in case I would be gone a few days.

I returned the next day and Warren went for the biopsy at 1:45pm. I called Becky to let her know and her Sergeant told her to leave work and go to be with us. Our Lt. Emmerson was kind enough to drive her the 85-miles to be with me. I was in the waiting room for 3-hours. They brought Bear out and I followed along to a room across from the nurses station. After he was taken care of to their satisfaction they left and we were talking to each other when he suddenly said, “Something is wrong……..I need help”………I was terrified and ran out to the nurse’s station and told her my husband was having difficulty……..she ran in and fortunately Dr. Ferguson was still at the desk across the hall filling out paper work. He ran in and said, “He probably has developed a clot……” and with that he barked orders to get Bear back to surgery on the double while he raced out to prepare for the surgical room.

Becky and the Lt. arrived in the middle of all that and saw my frantic face…….they took the elevator with me to the surgical floor where we came out just as they brought Bear down the hall. Dr. Ferguson caught up with them and as they wheeled him quickly towards the surgery door he leaned over Bear and said, “I’m sorry, buddy…….we’re going to get this taken care of. Hang on”………….They took a CAT scan and it showed a large clot where he had taken the biopsy. When Dr. Ferguson made the hole larger where he had gone in before, the clot pushed up and out without further probing which would have left him as a vegetable. As it was, he was paralyzed on his left side and his speech was very affected. This would now limit him to a wheelchair…..his long need of crutches was over.

As his options were taken away one by one, I made up my mind about one thing. I would care for him in our home…..he would not die in a hospital.

(Tomorrow I will finish November.)

Until then,
Essentially Esther

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Bear and I went to the Fort the first of the month for flu and pneumonia shots. He had some check-ups and we came right home because Bear was tired. The next day was Saturday and we worked on leaves. Becky, Bear and I worked steadily to clear our yard and then we went up to her house and raked her yard. Normally I enjoy being out but I was too worried about Bear to enjoy anything.

On day five we drove to Springfield for an MRI. Dr. Applegate was determined to find the cause of Bear’s distress. We arrived early and sat in the car in the parking lot until time to go inside. We watched some little sparrows hop around the bushes looking for food and I was thinking how normal everything was except for the two of us. Life was going on and we were sitting here wondering what this final test would find.

It took most of the afternoon and Bear was his usual jovial self, visiting with the ones who were in charge as they wheeled him from room to room. Finally at 3:30 we headed home. Dr. Applegate called shortly after we arrived and told me the MRI’s had been faxed to her and the news was not good. She said to stop his Cumadin at once and to see her Thursday, early in the morning. She set our appointment up by a day and wanted to see us before her patients arrived. I was the one who took the call but I didn’t tell Bear what she said. I only told him she had the tests back and we were to see her Thursday morning. He didn’t ask further.

The next day was Wednesday so we had a day to wait. We spent the day just doing wonderfully normal things that seemed so precious now. Bear wasn’t concerned but I was sick at heart. When we went to bed and I heard him breathing deep I lay thinking what the next morning would bring. He woke me in the middle of the night and was crying. He said he’d had a wonderful dream where Jesus came to him and told him he was coming home soon. He told Bear not to be afraid because he knew he was ready…….but he should tell everyone he saw that the time was short. Bear was so ecstatic and positively overwhelmed he couldn’t go back to sleep.

It began raining towards morning and was overcast and dreary. We hurried around and drove to West Plains to meet with Dr. Applegate. When we were seated, she said that Bear never had a stoke. The MRI clearly showed a fast growing tumor that was inoperable. That was what was causing all of the difficulty since the tumor was too close to the motor part of the brain. She said even if we had known in June about the tumor the results would have been the same……the cancer could not be separated from the brain……she had a prescription that she gave him for medication that might help him with his speech as it was becoming more difficult for him to say what he wanted and speak correctly. Especially when he became tired.

It was difficult for her to tell us. I sat frozen in my chair. Bear got up with his crutches and reached his hand across the desk. Dr. Applegate was totally undone over the news she had to tell him but he said, “Don’t worry. I’m going to heaven……..and I want to see you there, too.” He seemed altogether calm and in control of his feelings. She stared at him as he went on……. “It’s all right…..I’m a Christian and I’m going home.” She stood up and hugged him and we left. On the way past the receptionist’s desk, he noticed she was wearing a corsage. “I’ll bet it’s someone’s birthday today,” he said, and the lady said it was. He offered a hearty congratulations and we left. I know the woman had been aware of the news we would receive and she looked at him in disbelief for stopping to notice her corsage after the news we were just handed. We hurried to the car because of the rain coming down in torrents. I had been driving for some weeks because of his seizures……..when we were seated in the car and alone, I began crying.

Bear reached over and patted my arm. “Don’t cry, Bunny…….it’s going to be OK.” The news was so much worse than even I had imagined I was in shock. I thought maybe more surgery or something but not a life threatening thing like this. I couldn’t keep from crying. I wanted so much to believe it wasn’t really happening. I drove home in a stupor and began to sort out what we needed to do. Dr. Applegate called Fort Leonard Wood for an appointment with the neurologist to begin treatment that very day. We ate a bite of lunch and called Becky. She was working at the CDL lot but left immediately to come home and go to the Fort with us.

My mind was trying to get hold of the fact that Bear was not going to be with me much longer…….I cried all 80-miles to the Fort. I didn’t have the peace that Bear had so my mind and heart kept trying to make sense of the whole affair. How was I ever going to live without Bear……..we had been married over 26 years and had been inseparable. I couldn’t imagine a life without him……..

Until Monday,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, August 25, 2005


We were off for Labor Day and Jonathan stopped by to tell us how his Becky was doing. She was in a St. Louis hospital where her right leg was amputated below the knee. He stayed with her a week but had to go back to work. He said she was doing great and was looking forward to coming home. We were hoping it would get all of the cancer and this would be put behind them once and for all. They were hoping to get married but wanted to wait until she was through with all of her treatments.

I took off work one day so I could go to the Social Security office and see what my possibilities were for retirement. We had a nice lady who helped us with decisions and we planned for me to retire at the end of May the next year. I would then be eligible to draw 100% of both Social Security and my retirement from the Highway Patrol. I was beginning to be anxious about Bear’s health and I wanted to be available if he had some big problems up ahead. At the time it seemed inevitable.

The 17th of September I went with Bear to have a consultation with Dr. Hacket about the results of the MRI. He said the left side of his brain was completely normal but the right side was very abnormal. There were only a few veins. The picture was weird to look at…..on the left there were veins all scrambled up like a plate of spaghetti……on the right side it was dark except for about 3 veins running through. The clot was visible and he suggested not doing anything with it at that time because the vein was very weak and might break, thereby causing a massive cerebral hemorrhage. It gave mixed signals. We came home not knowing if he was better off or worse off. Our dilemma continued.

The month drug on with Bear feeling optimistic one day and then concerned the next. In the early days of October he lost the feeling in his left thumb that eventually went up into his arm. There was no way we could ever rest from the onslaught affecting him in so many ways. His speech was becoming slowly affected by whatever it was that was bothering him. About the time I felt panicky he would have a good day, free of problems. It was walking a fine line with our emotions.

The first weekend in October we drove up to George’s for a visit. It was great to leave our troubles behind for a few days and have something different to think about. Becky went with us and we enjoyed a good visit with all of our old friends. By mid-week his thumb and arm went numb again and this time it scared him pretty bad. In desperation we drove to the Fort to see if we could get any idea from the doctors what to do. His doctor suggested we hook up with our local neurologist again so we could have more frequent appointments. We felt like we were being punted back and forth because no one knew what to do. Bear had three bad seizures the next day.

When we were able to get in to see Dr. Applegate again, she was alarmed at the change in Bear. His speech was definitely affected and his appearance was noticeably different. She said we had definitely lost ground and she called for tests of every kind. I continued to work and it was difficult because working on a traveling crew put me out of town every day. Naturally, my thoughts were always on Bear…..still, it gave me a little time out from the constant worry. At work I was forced to think about other things whether I wanted to or not. It was probably a good thing.

He was on five Dilantin’s a day and it made him kind of dopey and weak. To see him that disoriented was sad. He was trying so hard to pull out of the circumstances he found himself in but still, he had to take the Dilantin to keep from having the seizures…….a perpetual merry-go-round. On the 30th he had another seizure in spite of all the precautions and a friend called to tell us a mutual friend of ours had died. He had been on their roof pulling a large limb off when it snapped and threw him off balance……he dropped to the ground on top of a stump. He had been in the hospital for some weeks but died this day.

It seemed our whole world was crumbling apart at the seams. I was never one to take life for granted…..I had buried my father, my brother and my mother. I understood loss and I understood suffering. I just never got over the pain of watching it all happen……………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Bear continued having the spells where the left side of his face would twitch and he was unable to talk. Some days were good and some were not. At times it would be so severe it alarmed both of us. We pursued medical help both at OMC West Plains and the hospital at Ft. Leonard Wood. His neurologist at West Plains had a TEE test run to see if there was anything in the throat or below that was causing it…….she was operating more or less on narrowing the field of possibilities to get to the bottom of the problem. She was as perplexed as we were.

The test came back “clear” and so we were left again with nothing positive to go on. He later took an EEG test which didn’t show any problem either. July turned to August and on the 7th he had a mild spell before supper and suffered terrible phantom pains in his stump all night. He finally got relief by morning.

On the 20th I went to the Fort with him for an appointment with an Army neurologist. As we sat in the waiting room I studied the other’s who were waiting. I wondered what their problems might be and how many might have terminal situations. I couldn’t get it out of my head that Bear’s condition was the result of a mild stroke. Finally we were called in and met with an older gentleman who looked overworked. It turned out he was a private physician and not related to the military at all. He came one day a week to see patients.

He looked over Bear’s records and did some basic tests……..he felt his problem was definitely focal seizures. He gave him medication to take 3-times a day. We had an appointment to come back. A few days later, Bear had an appointment with Dr. Applegate in West Plains and when he pulled into her driveway he had the worst seizure he’d experienced yet. He motioned to the receptionist for something to write on and scribbled that he was having a seizure, couldn’t talk and needed to see Dr. Applegate. She had an EEG ran immediately and I was glad she got to see a seizure in progress to have an idea of what we had been telling her. His speech was still slurred when I came home from work.

The following Sunday, our grandson Jonathan, (Becky’s boy) came to visit with his fiancé. She had been having leg and ankle pain for some time but had been told it was caused from all of the sports she was active in. After many failures to properly diagnose her problem it evolved into a rare cancer that only about 10-other people in the U.S. had. She was going the next day to have her lower right leg amputated. Jonathan was going with her and we wished them well. She had a great attitude and Bear certainly gave her a thumbs up……..he was an excellent example that life could go on after the loss of a leg. He was not deterred by anything he made up his mind to do.

August ended without any answers for the seizures Bear was having. There was nothing to do but keep appointments and hope someone could find something for us to go on. Our thoughts turned to Jonathan’s fiancé who was recovering from her amputation. It made our dilemma seem small at the time……………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The first week of June was the last normal week I would have for a long time. Bear woke me at 1:30 in the morning on June 7th with his throat and jaw twitching. He went to the kitchen for a drink of water and became alarmed when it ran out of his mouth. He had Bell’s Palsy twice before but this time it was strangely different. He tried to talk but couldn’t control his words so he wrote a note and told me he was afraid it was a stroke. His handwriting was shaky and I could hardly read it.

Our mothers and other family members had had strokes and our worst fear was that someday we would experience the same fate. I called Becky and then called 911. They came quickly and put him in the ambulance; I came back in the house and got dressed to follow as quickly as I could. I told Becky to call Ron and tell him I wouldn’t be at work that day and why…….she took care of that for me.

When I went in to see Bear, his left eye, cheek, jaw and neck were contracting worse. He was becoming more stressed and they admitted him in ICU and took him for an immediate CAT scan. When back in his room, a neurologist was assigned to him…..a female doctor who seemed very capable. She was an Army brat so Bear had instant connection with her. She said the X-ray showed a clot in a major vessel in the brain……she wanted another taken for comparison and also heart, lung and carotid artery….they later showed no sign of damage.

She determined the clot missed the motor area of the brain and his speech returned rather quickly, no memory problems, no paralysis, no nothing. He seemed to be fully recovered so I went home at 6:30 that evening. I had been tied up in knots all day and hadn’t eaten much so I came home to take care of the kitties and get some food and rest. Bear had a long hard day too so I figured he was in need of rest as well. I called family members when I got home and fell into bed.

The next day was Saturday so Becky and I went down early to see how he made it through the night. He had rested well and was talkative…..he had visitors and was in good spirits…..this continued until the third day. He seemed more tired then and around 11:30am he said he felt funny in his throat and cheek….three fingers on his left hand were also experiencing a strange feeling. In a few minutes it passed and his speech became better again.

This continued several more times and they released him on the fifth day. We were both pretty much feeling that nothing had been fixed but they said he had a stroke and was lucky it didn’t do damage. On the 18th of the month while I was at work, Bear had another “spell” while eating his lunch. Throat spasms, numb tongue and lips….couldn’t talk. It lasted about 10-minutes and then went away. Because we both felt something was more wrong that they thought at the small hospital at West Plains, we drove to Leonard Wood the next day and the medics sent him for an MRI test in Springfield. From Fort Leonard Wood to Springfield is quite a drive after the 80-mile trip in the morning from home to “Wood”………by the time I drove another 80-miles home after the MRI we were both tired.

Life went on….and the month ended. We were anxious to see what the MRI would show….we somehow didn’t think we were on the right track with the stroke diagnosis but Bear continued to take the medication. I didn’t talk to him about my fears but I was afraid something was terribly wrong. We waited for the other shoe to fall……………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, August 22, 2005


Have you ever wanted to roll the calendar back and be a kid again? Even better, a kid at your grandmother’s house with the cousin’s to play with? It can happen and it did happen in our family. A Nebraska cousin decided someone had better make the effort because there hadn’t been one since our aunt Mary died.

The reunions were always in Nebraska, at grandma’s house and in August. Grandma’s birthday was the 20th, aunt Mary’s was the 18th. The “Reunions” started when uncle Tom and aunt Inabelle moved to Washington D.C. in 1940. They came home every year for grandma’s birthday and all of the Stricklett siblings who could, came back at the same time. It was wonderful in those days because my cousins and I were all young and grandma and our aunts and uncles were very productive and there was much merriment and stories over days gone by.

Grandma’s house became a hotel for everyone. We were bedded everywhere from the floor to the ceilings and we ate in shifts. There were six aunts and uncles, their spouses and a bevy of cousins. On the day of the reunion, grandma and the “girls” were in the kitchen frying chickens that were home grown, making potato salad and baked beans…….various other side dishes and desserts. When the time came, everyone headed for the City Park where the swimming pool was with lots of playground equipment. The men and some of the boys would go earlier in the morning to save the largest shelter for our picnic.

As a young girl it was fun to hang around the kitchen and listen to the aunts as they laughed and talked together and prepared the food. By the time we were assembled at the park everyone was eager to eat the bounty brought by the family. Each year it was the same and each year another cousin or two would be added. As the years went by……..we cousins married and began having children of our own. Our family grew to a large number but as it must be……some of the numbers began leaving us. One by one they disappeared until the death of aunt Mary ended the reunions in 1987, at least as we knew them, then.

Earlier this year our cousin Bruce sent out emails asking if anyone would be interested in coming together for a reunion of the Stricklett’s. With the death of my brother it left 16 cousins, one aunt who was a Stricklett, and an aunt and uncle by marriage. He received a resounding “yes” from everyone and we stepped up to be counted. Only three would be absent. One cousin was in the process of moving to Arizona, one couldn’t come due to a new job and only one was deceased….my brother.

We came by planes, trains and automobiles. But we came. We came from all over the U.S. to assemble once again where our roots ran deep and sound. It reminded me of the movie, “Cocoon” where the elderly people jumped into the pool and became kids again. We each had grown up with different cousins and so they were sought out along with squeals of recognition and laughter at pot bellies, balding heads, wrinkles and cellulite. It didn’t matter. For a few magical hours we were all kids again and having the time of our lives. It was fun showing off our own kids, many of whom made the effort to come and had only heard about some of the cousins from their parents. In my case, we picked George up in Shawnee and then John arrived at the KCI terminal just five minutes before we picked him up. Becky wasn’t able to come because of a broken leg.

After leaving the park, some of us assembled at Joy and Dan’s home where they have renovated grandma’s old house into a beautiful work of art……with a yard of flowers, a quiet patio and a trickling pool. It is a work of love and the house is filled with three generations, coming and going……..bringing a lot of energy with them.

As we drove away from the house where my brother and I were born I was wondering…..what would the old house say if it could talk? Would it say that we were happy? Would it say that we stood proud? How I wish that I could listen, if that old house talked out loud!

Thanks to Bruce and all the cousins who put the time and effort in to make it happen. We have exchanged email addresses and our love for each other……God keep you all….until we meet again.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, August 18, 2005


The first of May was the day to change to our summer uniforms. It was always good to get away from the confinement of long sleeves and necktie, especially the necktie. Becky left for training in Jefferson City at the Patrol Academy. The rest of us would follow, one week at a time. A week away from home and the sterile routine of academy life makes one appreciate a soft bed and free time.

The next day, Bear busied himself bringing our new Amana stove and microwave oven home. The addition to our kitchen was a great improvement visually and especially when it came to convenience. Pete and his son came the next day to move the old stove out and the new one in. We really appreciated their help. Pete was always one to offer assistance when in need.

We went to visit George for a few days and Becky went along. We did a lot of shopping and eating out, along with visiting, before our time ran out. George’s driveway was all torn up as he was having new concrete poured to replace the old one. As we drove away the trucks were pulling up, ready to pour. On our next trip we would get to see the finished product.

I came home and did laundry and packed for my week at the Academy. I fixed a lot of food ahead for Bear and Becky assured me she would look after him. Pete came after me on Monday morning and we rode up together. I was happy to find I would be roommates with a lady I met at the last refresher course. Our room connected with two other women we both knew so it was a pleasant week in that regard.

It was interesting to tour the Department of Revenue and see how the driver’s licenses were made, along with all of the new procedures we were being informed of. The classes were held at the Academy and our meals were provided there, also. I called home several times and I was assured everything was fine in my absence. I saw Pete at mealtimes……his brother was a Major at the academy so he was eating with “brass” most of the time. You could always hear Pete laughing and telling jokes……which made everyone else laugh. Friday after lunch we headed home.

We had several very bad rainstorms and tornado threats. Texas, Oklahoma and Lee’s Summit, MO. were all hit hard. We had worked in the yard most of the month and everything was green and lush. My 64th birthday came and went with phone calls and all of the other thoughtful wishes from family and friends. Only one year to retirement now. Next year at this time I would be turning in my badge and getting ready to come home again for good…………I was looking forward to it.

Note: We will be leaving early in the morning for KC to pick George up and then to the airport to pick John up……..then the 4-hour drive on to Blair, NE. for a Stricklett family reunion. (My mother’s family.) We have not come together for some time, due to most of our elders passing on that used to make it happen. One cousin took the responsibility of contacting our one uncle and two aunts…….and 16 cousins with their families to meet in the city park with tubs of fried chicken like the “old days” when it was our grandmother’s freshly butchered chicken, cleaned by the aunts and fried. They packed plates, silverware, glasses……homemade lemonade and iced-tea, potato salad, baked beans and desserts enough for an army. Cousin Bruce laughed and said……. “Well, now it’s going to be KFC and paper plates, but we’ll get enough food together so it can have the same menu and be at the same place it always was.” We don’t really care…….being together and laughing over the good times remembered, on the same date, will make it all good.

Since cousins are flying in from all over the country…..some driving…….we will all be present on Saturday for one day of reminiscing and visiting, catching up with each other’s lives and the year’s between……and then depart at the end of the day. Sunday will be departure day for most of us. Though short in time, we still feel it important enough to take the little bit of time and expense to make the trip……why? Because grandma and all the aunts and uncles will be watching….and one of the cousins who preceded us in death (my dear brother)……would nod with great approval. I think if we look over our shoulder once in a while……..we may even see them. They are never far from any of us.

Until Monday, then………
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


After January and February making life miserable just to do the daily tasks, March was very uneventful. There was the usual round of absentees at work due to colds and flu but our work load was way down. It was either icy to drive on or so cold no one wanted to get out…..road tests are not high on the list during those times. As a crew, we settled in with lots of coffee, old war stories, talk of grandbabies and of course, a few gripes about the brass and the inconsistencies we endured. The guy on the front line dealing with the applicants has a different “take” on how the world turns rather than someone sitting in an office in the middle of the State.

Somehow, all of that helped the day move along until the magic hour when we headed home. I still laugh when I think of my old supervisor, Pete. He used to say in a gruff voice, “If there’s anybody who doesn’t believe in life after death, they need to come around here at quittin’ time!!” Pete had a way of saying things that always made me laugh, no matter how many times I heard his stories. He was a master joke teller. When it was time to fold up and go home the day had to be tallied, put in the books, our equipment neatly put away and out the door to the car in the parking lot. It was poetry in motion….each of us had a part in the “departure” and once in the car we were looking towards home. Yes, I miss the fella’s I worked with…….they were a great bunch. All retired now, like me, and of course……..we lost Pete last year.

March is birthday month for our family. John, Becky and Jonathan. I fixed a dinner for Jonathan and Becky for each of theirs. Our attending family keeps getting smaller and smaller but we still light candles and sing “Happy Birthday” to the honoree, who always groans and has to endure it to the end. Still, no matter how old fashioned and maybe a bit ridiculous now at our ages…….everyone would miss it if we didn’t do it. Some traditions just can’t be thrown out, no matter what! I rarely get to fix a dinner for John anymore with the distance between us but we make up for it other times in other ways……..it’s always an “occasion” whenever we manage to be together.

George and Becky decided to go to see John and Barb in April. George arrived here on a Friday evening April 5th….. I had pizza’s in the oven by the time he arrived and we enjoyed a relaxing meal. I got up at 5:30 the next morning to get them on their way…….they left by 7:30 and arrived safely by 5:00 in Covington. We were surprised a few days later when John called to tell us Barbara was pregnant and another baby was on the way. I think they were surprised, themselves.

We were expecting George and Becky the following Friday night so I came home from work and made a cherry cobbler and fixed pizza’s for them. Their choice. After supper we sat and visited and their trip had been a little different than they figured on. Barb was very sick with the pregnancy and other problems, Becky was miserable with an infection in one of her crowns and had stayed home with Barb while the guys got out and did things. Becky was able to get antibiotic’s but it had been very expensive and difficult.

George made it on home safely and called to let us know. (A family courtesy we all follow.) We were saddened to learn a good friend died of cancer. He had been the one to drive all the way to Fort LeonardWood when Bear suffered the loss of his leg. They had worked together at the local school and the minute Dean heard Bear was in a life and death situation, he dropped everything and drove the distance to find us. John had performed the ceremony for Dean and his wife when they married…..a few days later, Bear went to his graveside service in an old family cemetery. That same day, Barbara miscarried. One little unborn and one good friend went to heaven the same day………….if life is hard to understand at times, death is all the more. We just know that no matter what…..God in his infinite wisdom knows what is best………and we trust in him.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


January was a brutal month for the poor animals and birds that had to be in it. We spent a lot of time trying to feed and get water for them. Even in winter it’s important that they have water. Becky had given us a heater for the bird-bath at Christmas time and it worked great….the poor birds really appreciated all the help they could get. Heavy snow had caused a large limb to break out of a pine tree in our yard and Bear worked to get that cut up so we could clear it out.

Up north the folks were getting unbelievable temperatures coming in off of the Great Lakes and it spread clear down into the southlands. For several days we had a wind chill of -39* below zero. It felt like it striped the hide right off your face. Someone was off sick from one crew or the other the whole month…..the flu and colds were taking a toll on everyone.

This was the time all public buildings were to be up to specifications for wheel-chair accessibility and in these little towns with antiquated Court Houses, it was a mess. They had to have ramps from outside the building to the entrance and then some way to get people up to the higher floors. The construction went on for months. The dust and noise together made for a long day at each office. We were almost glad when we had to go out in the cold to run a road test.

The weather wasn’t any better when February came in. The wind and freezing temperatures were making life hard on everyone, especially the poor animals. Bear was summoned to jury duty in Springfield and drove up for that……he rather enjoyed it, I suppose with his Army Intelligence background it was interesting to him. They later settled out of court so he didn’t go back.

This was leap year so February lasted a little longer. By the end of the month we were all eagerly looking forward to March with hopes our normal weather would return and bring signs of spring. It had been a long, hard winter for south Missouri…….

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, August 15, 2005


Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been absent a few days. There have been a number of reasons, and the old saying, “When it rains, it pours,” is right. Since Becky broke her leg, I have gone back and forth to help with things she isn’t able to do on crutches. She has found a few ways to make it work but not all. It is humbling to have to ask for help when you have been a physical fitness person and centered on a strong body. Now reduced to either having help, doing without or finding ways to do what she needs have been serious choices for her.

We all know the boredom that sets in when you can’t get up and do what you want. Boredom is only the tip of the ice-burg. Frustration, impatience, anger and blame all follow in step…so to speak. I’ve been there and done that but not with a broken leg. Any incapacitating illness or accident downgrades your choices, radically. We have tried to help but not smother……..a balancing act for experts.

News last week that an old friend lost her husband in a horrific traffic accident changed her life in a moment, and she was struggling, trying to stay on top of the onslaught that comes with tragedy. We talked on the phone and I wrote her a letter, knowing that would mean more than flowers or a sympathy card that only brings more pain. In the midst of my grief in losing Bear I found reading all of the cards with lofty verses about how it was “going to be all right….in time” or well-meaning Christian friends parroting cliché’s only added to my loss. It did not get better in time and sometimes no words are best. I may be odd but the thing that worked for me was working it out in my solitude. When all of the voices and well wishers were gone……I could hear my own thoughts in silence.

Becky and I have had three booths at an Antique Barn for six or seven years now. When she was able to manage crutches better, she was not one to sit around and wait for miracle healing. She got up and helped Rocky and me go through two garages full of things to be sold and helped price and tag them. We fixed her up in front of the small booth on a retro, red step stool. A table then made it possible for her to put things on the shelves from boxes we brought her . I was busy emptying things out of our large booth for quick sale in the small booth. With Rocky carrying things back and forth it helped the process because the booths were on separate isles. He is also a class weight-lifter, as you know, so it was no problem for him to transport the heavy boxes.

With one concerted effort, the three of us managed to get the job finished and the booths look great. We toted our empty boxes out to the car and went out for lunch. Today is “kick-ass Monday” and Becky IS back to work today……..but I doubt if she’s doing much kicking…..especially that high. She is in civilian clothes, working in the office of Troop G until she is able to resume traveling with her crew. I know it will be tough getting through her first day, but she’s not one to shirk so I’m sure the State will get their full eight hours of effort from her. Rocky is back to work and I’m going to do some serious cleaning………if we don’t stub our toe, I’ll be back tomorrow to pick up the rest of January 1996.

I hope you have all had a good week-end and are picking up the traces today. I don’t know where YOU are but where I am we are looking for some relief from an unusually hot summer, here in Southern Missouri. After a few sessions of becoming over-heated, I have been house-bound most of the time…..I decided I can’t win by being bull-headed about it so I fell into line. Old Mother Nature is bigger than any determination we have…….or is it just me? Perhaps……………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Thursday, August 11, 2005


After four days without hot water, I am happy to say that we are heated up and running again. I was taking a shower Saturday evening when I noticed the water never got to the warm stage it normally is. We’d been having a little breaker trouble on the fuse box since our whopper of a thunderstorm a couple of days before that, so I figured it had shut off and the tepid water would soon run cold. I yelled at Rocky and he came to check things out………and then decided if he didn’t want a stone cold shower he’d better get one too.

The following morning he changed some of the fuses and the water became boiling hot……..we barely turned the hot faucet on and turned the cold one almost to full capacity. Now, we’re both thinking………something is just NOT right about this. Rocky had to go to work so I did some laundry and ran the dishwasher…..everything seemed to be in order. That evening when it was bath time, the water was stone cold, dead in the market. It was tough but we managed a shower. A quick one.

Then we both began an assault on the water heater……..we had a plan, carefully thought out. Rocky left the room and returned with our hose so we could drain the water from the heater……and didn’t spill a drop or have a catastrophe. So far, so good. Then he tore it apart, bit by bit and with the wiring taken off and the heating elements out, we discovered the bottom element was rusted and totally broken apart. We could also see through the hole he removed it from there was lime/calcium deposits clear to the top of the opening.

After some inspection and information gathering, Rocky said we could bring in the Shop-Vac and duct tape smaller hoses to it so we could get the lawn hose in the hole. He was told it would then suck out the sludge from the tank. After several tries and failures, he began poking the stuff with a long screw driver…..then went to look for a longer metal piece to go all the way into the tank.

Our hot water heater is in a compartment that is closed in on one end of our clothes closet. Now our clothes closet is where I stack shoes, old work clothes, a small tool box for the house, shoe shine box………well, you see where I’m going. We had to drag all that out to even start………then Rocky, twisted himself into a pretzel to fit in the closet and poke in the tank to remove the lime. I would say, in about 15-minutes tops, he was so cramped up I had to pry him out of the little space he was working in and we stood staring at the situation in a more realistic way. We decided that I would be the one to poke and he would hold the hoses.

So I started and after a few design flaws were worked out we actually completed the removal of lime. By now it was 11:00pm and we were both about done in. The tank was as clean as we could get it under the circumstances. Rocky turned the water on and everything looked great………when a hose connection started leaking on top of the tank. Rocky shut off the water and we put a bucket under the drip and went to bed……with no bath.

The next day he went to the lumber yard and came home with new washers and fittings………put them in all of the pipes and fastened them down. Eureka!!! No leaks. Rocky removed the room-full of equipment we had in the bedroom by now and we went to the living room to wait for the water to heat. After so long a time we began checking the faucets for the results and the water was still cold. Inspecting the tank……it was nice and dry but cold.

Rocky went back to the manual and went through the series of things we had followed. Then he turned the page and it said a little word that made instant sense. That word, Reset, was the answer. Back to the living room to again wait anxiously to see if at last we would have hot, running water. On the next inspection it was alive and well…….water running …….and hot. We both got a good, long shower and went to bed happy.

Today I am doing laundry and running the dishwasher. I am one who has never taken creature comforts for granted but my appreciation for hot, running water has increased beyond measure…….

So how is YOUR water running?

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


New Year’s day is our day to just goof off, doing anything that comes to mind, but ALWAYS…..it means football. We know that soon the games are going to be gone until fall so we try to load up to avoid withdrawals. It doesn’t work, of course….when the last game is played it is a desert until August when training starts once more. The pre-season games? We don’t care if they “count” in the standings or not…..we’ll watch anything if it smacks of football. Arena football is even tolerated….yes! I know. It’s sinking to a disgusting level at that point.

My dryer chose to stop working this day. I consider this a violation on a holiday so I took my clothes up to Becky’s and used her dryer. Bear and I helped her put her redwood bird feeder together that George gave her for Christmas and then we came home and Becky came to eat lunch with us.

The very next day we woke to snow covering the ground and a full-scale blizzard was in progress. Because the towns we go to each day to give tests are quite a drive from the office at Headquarters, and with the prospects of more snow, we opted to go to the office here in town and sit it out. The State doesn’t pay you to sit at home, so you have to go to the office and sit until quitting time. I’m sure a man made this rule…it looks like a total waste. If we were home we could make good use of the time…..however, sitting around the coffee room certainly opened a window of wisdom for me. Yes, it’s true. Men think differently than women. I’m glad.

We broke at noon and had a two-hour lunch hour…….then they let us go at 3:00pm. Becky’s crew got off at 2:30 so we ended up back home about the same time. I made a pot of chili for supper and we watched the Fiesta Bowl. Nebraska beat Florida a whopping 62-18.….being a native Nebraskan, I loved the dominance of the Cornhuskers. The Florida colleges are light and fast. Guess they don’t get good beef and corn down there. NU is solid muscle and they come right at you on the line. The outcome is decided by a couple of simple facts. If the defense gets across the line fast enough the offense crumbles under brawn….if the opposing team is so fast the big guys can’t get to them in time…it’s a runaway for them. However, unless they have their running shoes on, Nebraska kills the opponent in the trenches. When Osborn was the coach it was a real battle of wits between the coaching………I loved those games. (Could you tell?) Since Osborn, I have cringed a lot and at times have had to turn the game off. It just hurt too bad.

Back to the snow……we ended up with about 10-inches, ending during the night. We woke the next morning to a beautiful white world and I took a lot of pictures. It looked like white frosting was piled on anything that didn’t move. Stunningly beautiful. The guys came after me for work and we went to West Plains……..no melting today and no road tests………only written.

I cut out diamonds to make a star quilt and I took a few with me each day to put together while applicants were scarce. Each day I added a few to my basket and when I had enough, I would piece them into a block…….then work them up in the finished piece. Choosing a quilt pattern and then the material for each quilt is the thrill of quilting for me. I personally love the old fashioned prints sewn together in a mosaic of blended colors. I love print with print, which was the way our forbearer’s made them….just out of scraps.

When I look at old quilts handed down, I always wonder what the woman was thinking as piece went with piece, color next to color…….did she think about her children? did she think about her garden, planning the next meal, thinking about washing the windows…..maybe write a letter to her mother to tell her about making the quilt. Was she pretty? Was she sad? Did she have a good husband, a happy home…….was she healthy? So many stories of the person are woven into stitch after stitch. That is why I love to piece quilts…….a silent testimony that someone lingered here long enough to make something that would last.

On Friday that first week of the month, we went to the town of Eminence to work. Mid-morning it began snowing again and since the road is very crooked and narrow Pete decided to leave at 1:30 and head for home. It was really nice to be home that early on a Friday. The Court House had been cold. It was old and built with native stones. The Court House was on Main Street along with a few businesses there were up and down the street. The town was built along the Jack’s Fork River….the Current River is also close and a haven for canoe traffic. The steep hills didn’t allow for much growth. Still, it is a nice little town that lives more or less on tourism, it’s very scenic and called the Scenic River Waterways area. The first order of business when I came home was to get warm. The Court House was picturesque but old plumbing and heating didn’t make it comfortable in extreme weather conditions.

On the sixth day of January it was a Saturday. I spent the day doing a little cleaning, Bear usually did the vacuuming, taking out the trash and other odd jobs to help out. On Saturdays I put the finishing touches where he couldn’t get to because of his handicap. I made a couple pans of cinnamon rolls and two loaves of mom’s recipe for French Bread. The aroma permeated the house and when Becky walked over in the afternoon, the three of us sat down and had some rolls and coffee. Winter is such a nice season to cozy up at home and pull something fresh from the oven………..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


November 1st was going to be a critical time for the kid’s dad. He had some kind of artificial tubing in his left leg and a shunt became a problem and caused an aneurysm. There was also danger of infection. He was in ICU in a Texas hospital and the kids were all pretty concerned about him. The doctors felt they may have to amputate his left leg. George had been a smoker many years of his life and the vascular problems eventually showed up. He had several surgeries to try and correct the circulation in his legs.

This day was Grandma Strain’s birthday so I felt like he would rally on her day. We waited for better news. A few days later he had surgery and eventually went home and recovered very well. It took time but he was able to return to a normal life.

Jonathan came and cut out about fifteen trees in our back that were scrubby and too close together to ever make anything. Later he came back with a friend and they cut out the wood for heating and burned the brush. It certainly improved the looks of the back yard and down into the timber. He worked so fast and was so adept at what he was doing it was amazing to watch him. Jonathan loved being outdoors and especially in the woods. He is a true country boy.

We had snow flurries the morning of December 8th which soon came down in earnest. My supervisor called and said he wasn’t going to Eminence (a very crooked road off the US Hwy) and so I took a days vacation and stayed home. The snow made it hard to keep the birds fed who were flocking to our feeders. I always throw feed on the ground in bad weather so more of them can eat. We have ample feeders but when the weather turns ugly they don’t supply fast enough……..and then there are little guys who like to feed on the ground anyway.

To make good use of the day we decided to put our tree up. It took all day of going back and forth to the garage for the boxes. It turned out to be the prettiest tree we ever put up. It was just special that year. Becky came down on Sunday and I started my Christmas baking while it was so cold outside. I made pie dough for five pies, a coffee cake….two batches of chocolate chip cookies, two cookie pie shells to put ice-cream in later, made two bags of hash browned potatoes and a large amount of freezer biscuits. Becky pitched in and helped with all of it and we enjoyed the prospects of having a big start on holiday menus.

On the 14th , on our way to work for the day, we encountered about 40-some cars in the ditches and on the road that had run into each other in a terrible fog. It was so thick visibility was zero. Troopers were out working the accidents but there weren’t nearly enough to go around. I’d never seen such a jumbled pile-up of vehicles….before or since. I had made cinnamon rolls the night before to take to work so we could have them with coffee on our break. I was glad I had them along, we ate them in the car and had coffee from our thermos bottles.

Near the town where we were to work, we passed another terrible (and fatal) accident. A well-known local woman and her four-year old daughter were killed when she pulled out in front of a pick-up and horse trailer. The fog was so dense she never saw it coming. Folks in the Court House were in shock……..in a small town, everyone’s heartache is your own.

On December 22nd, we were surprised to find the Court House at Eminence was closing at noon…….we were really glad to have unexpected time off. It was George’s birthday and he was coming home so I wanted to fix a nice supper and all his favorite goodies. Long ago George decided cherry cobbler was much better than birthday cake so I always made that for him.

Christmas ended up just being the four of us, Bear, Becky, George and me. Jonathan called and had strep throat so he wasn’t able to come. We played a lot of board games and enjoyed good food and gift opening. It was nice but we were sorry Jonathan couldn’t be with us. We talked to John and Barb and Jennifer and her hubby……it was always fun to hear how everyone liked their gifts.

This year we would be able to see John, Barb and L.J. open their’s…..they arrived the day after Christmas. It isn’t often all three kids get home at the same time and especially over holidays but this year was very special……..as we would learn later. The day John’s left for home, it began snowing and L.J. was having a ball chasing the flakes and letting them fall on him. Not very often does a south Louisiana boy get to see snow. He loved it.

As the last car pulled out of the driveway, the snow kept falling and we came back inside to clear away the dishes and food. It’s always quiet when everyone is gone but the laughter and the hugs last a long time after. We took our tree down the last day of December and the New Year came in as we slept……………

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Monday, August 08, 2005


September came in on a Friday. Becky and I both worked at Eminence, and hurried home as fast as we could. It didn’t take long to load the critters up and take them to the boarding so we could leave town. We were taking a long Labor Day weekend to spend with George. We arrived safe and sound without a problem.

We were up early the next day to hit as many of our favorite shopping places as we could on a Saturday. We did lots of driving, walking and looking….and enjoyed several Malls at different locations. I think you could live in a Mall…..they have everything a person needs to get through each day…nights too. With the live plantings and tinkling fountains there is even a sense of the outdoors. The only necessary thing you would lack…..privacy. The hoards of people milling about would literally drive me crazy. One day of shopping is quite enough for me.

That evening we met DiDi and her family at the Shawnee Pizza Shoppe for a lot of visiting and, of course, lots of pizza. It’s become a tradition to do this for two good reasons….the pizza is the best in the country and we love DiDi, Chris and Julie. Diane and Becky have been friends since Junior High days.

On Sunday we went back for some things we decided we wanted and looked around until late afternoon. George cranked up his Webber and fixed grilled burgers with all the trimmings. Later, we walked over to the Wades, home……..George and Dennis had gone all through school together and now lived across the street from each other in their own homes. It’s fun for me to see the kids who used to spend a lot of time at our house when they were growing up. They have all done well and turned out to be just as nice an adult as they were a teen-ager. Friends for life.

We had a nice day on Monday and left for home on Tuesday. We were back early enough that we could retrieve our animals from the Vet so they wouldn’t have to stay another night. They were happy to get back home. Becky had to go back to work the next day but I took the rest of the week off. Bear and I got into some heavy garage cleaning and did away with a lot of stuff. On the 8th we took Becky to Springfield for her check-up with Dr. Powell, her internist. He was pleased with her progress and released her to test in vehicles but not CDL yet. There would be too much stress on her climbing into the semi’s. We dropped by to see Dr. Buckner, her surgeon, for him to sign some papers for her insurance. It was good to see him again.

The first part of September was dry and hot but later in the month we had a record breaking cool front. The rains began in earnest after our usual dry summer. You could almost hear the grass and the vegetation drinking it up and in a few days everything looked green once again. The last of the gardens were brought in and I worked in my flower garden, pulling out the spent foliage and clipping back some of the bushes. With the weeds pulled and the garden laid to rest, I could look forward to leaf raking time. It’s a lot of work but with the cooler temperatures and color everywhere you may look, it is a beautiful time of year. Bear always did the lion's share of the leaf removal but I liked to help when I could. I just liked doing it. October 3rd O.J. Simpson received a “not guilty” verdict in the case that seemed to go on forever. Emotions ran high and most still thought he was guilty. At the least, we are glad it was finally over after a long run on TV and the subject of all the talk shows.

Becky and I worked together a lot during the month. Ron had hurt his leg working cattle, Pete had another heart attack, Joe’s mother was sick so he took off and Corky was off a few days. We were short handed on both crews but there were always two of us so we got by. Bear finished the leaves up and everything was finished for the year. Football reigned supreme and we enjoyed the games on the week-end and Monday nights.

I found a recipe for a delicious pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing and made several of those to eat and to share. October and her blue sky with the changing colors of the leaves provided a beautiful backdrop for outdoor activities. I love to hang clothes on the line when it’s so pretty out. It was easy to look around at all of the hues and feel blessed to live in such a pretty section of the country.

When I focus on the earth we live in and the ever changing sky above I find it hard to believe that heaven is going to be even more beautiful……still, I know it will be because God said so…..and that’s enough for me……..

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


I won’t be able to blog until I get past the next few days. I’ve been running back and forth to see about Becky and her needs……….and Rocky, she and I had rented another booth at the Antique Barn beginning this month so he’s gone with a full driving schedule and she’s on the couch with a broken leg. I always seem to escape the mishap but am on tap to be the “back up” guy.

She is coming along very well but is pretty bored with TV right now. Something daytime folks have known all along…….nothing worth watching once you’ve heard the news 50-times on CNN. We go to Springfield today to be checked by the Orthopedic Surgeon and Becky is hoping for a “boot” so she can be up more. Once the immediate pain is over…..and the recuperation begins….it’s hard to sit still. Of course, I have only observed this from the family members I’ve been around……

I am going to do some marking, pick up some things at Becky’s and head for the Barn so y’all have a good day and when we hear what the OS guy has to say, one of us will be letting you know. Stay cool……..it’s a beast here……….we water daily.

Until next time,
Essentially Esther

Monday, August 01, 2005


Last Thursday I wrote the last episode of Becky’s gall-bladder fiasco and as I put the finishing touches on it, I thought…..you know? It’s been quite a while since she has had a major disaster…..the past two or three years have been rather quiet. But…..that’s a good thing. Raising Becky has never been over. She is my one child who always finds a way to throw the biggest monkey wrench into my comfort zone.

Friday I had a lunch guest and then took her for a nice long ride. Saturday was a quiet day because Becky was hosting a birthday supper at the neighbors for her daughter-in-law, Aimee. Other than Becky coming a couple of times to ask me to grate cheese for her in my food processor and then later……some onions…..I thought, “Well, this is different for a change.” I normally have all birthdays, holidays, spur of the moment days and anything Becky dreams up. This one time I was told…….”just come to the party….I have it under control.” I enjoyed a quiet afternoon getting to some things I rarely get to do. Rocky was at the gym…..all was quiet on the Ozark front.

Everyone arrived on time and we ate leisurely. The food was enjoyed and then the gift opening. Little Davy was at a loss for attention because the guys were on the deck visiting and we ladies were intent on the process of Aimee’s pregnancy. Aunt Becky, sensing he was lost in all that, took him outside to play. THAT was an error in judgment. She was in hot pursuit of him in his little John Deere battery run car, truck, whatever……he had just gone into the garage and she was running to head him off and grab him………all of which he was oblivious to.

Instead, she turned her ankle on the sidewalk and went down like a body slam. The guys on the deck heard the crunch and figured two knee caps and a wrist or two would be on the injured list. She jumped up, and said she was fine, gathered up her dignity and came in where the three of us were still at the table concentrating on the new baby car seats. Below her left knee was an ugly sidewalk burn which was bleeding and she was hobbling on her right foot. The toe she had surgery on about three years ago or so was giving her fits and swelling……..she was afraid she’d jarred the screw that was holding her toe in place. She for sure didn’t want to have surgery on that toe again……..it took forever to heal enough so she could go back to work.

Then another pain throbbed it’s way into her brain and she looked at her right ankle which was now bulging on the outside and looking ominous. We kept checking the progress, making bets as to whether it was a torn tendon or a bone break. We all had our opinions at Becky’s expense. The ER of choice was over 80-miles away and it would be late getting there and very late even getting to see a doctor after we got there. Becky didn’t want to go and to tell you the truth, none of the rest of us did either. We decided to get her home and leave early in the morning if it still looked bad…..she was hoping it was “just a sprain.” Ice bag in place, we came home.

……..and the sun set………..(remember those old school plays where the cardboard sun falls behind a curtain on stage?) Pardon my drama………..

Next morning we got her there as fast as we could. We didn’t get in to the ER proper until 10:00 so we waited with several other folks who had various degrees of misery and finally got a room. It was a full two hours before X-rays, the reading of them, the guy who came in to put a cast on, waiting for the prescriptions and instructions. Result……..a broken tibia at the ankle joint. Her toe with the screw in it was fine….no problem. That was a big relief to Becky. We put her in the car, ate a Subway sandwich on the way home and kept her here until almost dark. She wanted to go home to be with her cat, her meds etc; so we took her home.

Napoleon came, we fed him……again, we watched him fly to his roost. We got Beck settled in, with all the stuff she would need until we came back.…..which I did this morning. Fed Napoleon, the cat and checked on Becky. She looked fine and was already getting fidgety about the things she “couldn’t” do. Just like a kid. Bored already and she has another 6-weeks to go.

It hurts like you would imagine……and then some…..they had to wrap a bad spot of poison ivy on her leg to get the cast on. Now how do you stand poison ivy under a cast? Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how it goes. Wait………..I think I hear someone screaming………

Prayers are acceptable. Not for her........for me.

Until tomorrow,
Essentially Esther