Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chain e-mails aren't always bad

Please read this forwarded e-mail I got today from my in-laws.  But be warned:  it's a doozy.
In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.

Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.

Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared.

Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds.

He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries.

Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job..

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town.   No luck.

The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job.

Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop.

It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids.

She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning.

She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could st art that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people.

I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night.

She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep

This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job.. And so I st art ed at the Big Wheel..

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money-- fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage.

The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home..

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires!

There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires.

Had angels taken up residence in Indiana ? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station.  In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office.

I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough.

Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids .

I found a can of red paint and st art ed repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, ana state trooper named Joe.

A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine.

The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes.

I quickly opened the driver's side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat..

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box.

Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!

I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans.

Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes.

There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items.

And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude.

And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

I believe that God only gives three answers to prayer:

1. 'Yes!'

2. 'Not yet.'

'I have something better in mind.' 

You may be going through a tough time right now but God is getting ready to bless you in a way that you cannot imagine.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What A World

"What a world. What a world," she cried just before her untimely demise. Do you know of what poor, misunderstood soul I speak of? Any guesses? No? Anyone still reading? No? Mom? You there? Amelia? I know my little sister knows.

As the wretched ruby slipper snatching Dorothy sloshes the gorgeous green one with water she begins melting away in steaming agony. "What a world . . . " were sadly, among some of her very last words ever spoken - at least this side of the rainbow.

Such a tragedy when all the old gal had been after were the shoes her recently senselessly murdered sister had been wearing at the time of her death. I mean, really?! What gave that bubble riding fairy the right? Who was she to bestow anything upon that undeserving, self-centered, gingham wearing brat?

Should anything ever happen to my sister -- YOU BEST NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT MESSING WITH HER SHOES! I'm just sayin'. Those Nikes my friends, wellll, they'd be mine. End of tangent.

And now back to my admittedly overly lengthy explanation of this installment's title. 'What a World' is named so because since my last entry I have felt just as the unjustly named Wicked Witch of the West felt that horrific evening at her castle.

For those not as well-versed on 'The Wizard of Oz' as my sister and myself, please allow me to explain. First and foremost when one is in her own castle and surrounded by hoards of her own faithful flying monkeys - one should feel loved and safe - nearly indestructible, if you will. And as a bonus, she even had the punk that took her shoes locked up. All was soon to be right with the world.

In case you hadn't noticed, that my loyal monkies, is a parallel to what I was feeling back in early November. The stars were lining up. My family and friends were all behind me. Prayers and well wishes brought with them a love I hadn't realized in quite some time. My LIBERATION date approached. There was no stoppin' this momentum of hope and love. All was soon to be right with the world - my world - ME - again.

I felt good just as the witch should have that horrid night. God forgive us, we may have even - amongst the high of it all, felt a bit arrogant. (No worries of that happening again as the witch done met her maker and I, wellllll . . . I just somehow now know better. Lesson learned, okay? More on that later.)

Anyways, as you know, my insurance said, "NO!" And as for the witch, in lieu of the slippers she received a bucket of water to the face. And, buh-bye! Lucky for me denial of insurance coverage didn't mean instant death my melting. What it did mean however was another trip home UNLIBERATED. And more waiting. So basically the next couple of weeks could be akin to the witch's slo mo spiral to oblivion. "What a world!"

As you know, if you know me at all, this being told, "NO!" business never sits well with me. So immediately all fired up I dive in to an appeal. A solid week after returning home I do nothing but focus on this as if my life depended on it. I tweeked and re-tweeked the first draft I posted for you 'til I thought my head would explode. And finally I settled on and sent a version as heart wrenching, fact packed, and mind blowing as I could muster.

So thanks to God first, my husband second, and my family and friends third, I now sit here this beautiful Monday morning anxiously awaiting this week's appointment. I sit looking out my sliding glass doors - snow falling - the lights from the Christmas tree glowing - my pitbull snuggled to my right - a cold Coke to my left and a warm Dell on my lap. All should be right with the world, then, right?

Wrong. My mom's got a sore on her foot. A wound rather. An open wound. And she's diabetic, remember? So healing isn't all that easy a thing for her to do. She's in horrible, horrible pain. Please pray for her.

My g'pa. He's sick too. May be pneumonia. May not. Please pray for him. My g'ma whose foot is in a boot and whose just been released to walk is having quite a time trying to take care of g'pa. Please pray for her. All this kinda makes my problems seem trivial, heh? I know. But while you're praying it wouldn't hurt to go on ahead and mention me too. Pleeeeaaaase.

But you've already been so blessed, Angela. And yes, I have. I've been given hope of a cure. I've been given a husband whose willing and able to borrow money needed to obtain it. I've been given family and friends who have generously given to help us out. I mean it's Christmas time people! Money is always tight at Christmas and there's always plenty of charities needing help, right? It's been astonishing, really!

Many fellow MSer friends of mind have even begun having fundraisers. Not me tho. Nope. I haven't asked for a dime. That's not to say should I need additional procedures and the insurance still hasn't come around, that I won't be heading a bake sale, a bowl-a-thon or dare I say even a pitbull raffle in the future. (Only kidding Gooch!) Seriously nothing wrong with fundraisers -- I'm just flabbergasted at the response to my need without ever having asked. So, yes. Yes, I am very blessed.

An Aunt, unbeknownst to me, at Thanksgiving writes out a check and forcefully gives it to Jason. She makes him promise not to give it to me 'til we've left. And he begrudgingly obeys. Barely out of the driveway that evening he hands me a small folded piece of paper and says, "Here, your Aunt _ _ _ _ y gave me this to give to you." And there it was. A check all signed and dated with generosity and love. I cried like a baby on the way home amidst "Mommy, what's wrong?" coming from the back of the truck.

I don't know why it had gotten me all shook up. I'd been given money before. My Mom had just given me some as a matter a fact before we'd left the first time. And G'ma and G'pa had given me enuff to pay for the pre-testing. And my sister wanted to pay for a night's worth of the hotel and dinner and, wellll, okay, I cried then too. I've actually become quite the ball bag lately. But they're family, right? Family takes care of family, right?

But it's not just family y'all. One lady (you know who you are) even after warnings that the house was a wreck and I was couch ridden in my pajamas, insisted she wanted to just drop by and see me. Odd, I'd thought at the time. We'd been talking back and forth on Facebook and a bit on the phone. Wonderfully kind lady. Used to go to my church. Has children all older than me. Recently was told she might have MS. Yikes! So we'd gotten closer thru this but close enuff to just drop by?

I hadn't even brushed my teeth. And I told her it would take me eons to get to the door. "No problem," she'd said. If the door was unlocked she'd come on in. I knew her well enuff. Sure. Come ahead. And she had. Gift in hand. She said, "It's not much but we wanted to help out." How awesome is that?

Allergic to cats, she sat and stayed a bit anyways. We talked about her last hospital stay, her son, my mom - a little bit of everything. When she got up to leave I stood too in an attempt to see her to the door and she just wouldn't have it. She said, "No. Now you sit back down." And with that I hugged her. And she hugged me. It was a loving, tight motherly hug. (The best kind if you ask me.)

The call, the visit, the gift, the hug. So outta nowhere. Friends you think are friends, well they might just be there for their own benefit. Or not even there at all. And then there are those you prolly wouldn't think of as 'close' who swoop in and do something like this. So thoughtful. So selfless. There are truly angels among us.

I hadn't even opened the card until she had left and realized just how generous she'd been. When my husband came home from work that night I told him I'd had a visitor. His first reaction was to look around at the house in disgust and roll his eyes. I told him that hadn't mattered at all to her and that she'd brought us a card.

I handed it too him. As the gift was still inside he stood there shaking his head in disbelief as he is not a very good gift receiver (he's a much better giver). Anyways, he continued head shakin' whilst he read her kind words that accompanied the gift and this time his eyes began to tear. Then he wrinkled his forehead and asked, "Who is _ _ _ _ _ ?" Crazy, heh? That the hubs wasn't even sure who I'd been talking about. "Ohhhh," he'd said, "my. How nice is that?"

And then at church on Sunday. Another gift. Unexpected. Gracious. Kind. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And a special prayer from Beverly to boot. Everything she'd said - perfect. And that's not all. That was all before service had even actually got started.

I received yet again another special prayer. This time I had already made my way up to the alter (thanks to my Uncle Scott who'd been preaching directly to me the past two Sundays, maybe more), I was also anointed. Emotional, much? You betcha. Jason to my left. Aunt Ann to my right. Uncle Scott across the alter. Robin close by with kleenexes. Amelia and G'ma just behind me. Cheryl with a hug. And many, many more. Have I mentioned I love my church family? Welllll, I do!

Soooo self-centered. I know, right? I'm sure everyone who had gone so out of their way for me had surely had problems of their very own. Maybe I was more like Dorothy than the Wicked Witch after all. It always kinda rubbed me wrong it was alllll about her getting home. Nevermind the Scarecrow wanting a brain, the Tinman longing for a heart or the Lion searching for courage.

And while we're on the subject did it never don on anyone that the Scarecrow was always the smartest? The Tinman the most loving and the Lion the most courageous? Just sayin'. Maybe the Emerald City we're all searching so hard to find isn't at all what we need. Too cryptic?

Maybe we ask the Wizard for the wrong stuff. He was smart enuff, right? So being sooo brilliant and wise the Scarecrow surely should've asked for about a blue million other things. And the Tinman. Why not ask for a rust free exterior? So my point? Ahh yes, my point. Get's lost pretty easy, don't it?

My point is maybe this whole ordeal hasn't been for me to realize and obtain this procedure, but to realize and receive the unwavering support and encouragement I have from soooo many loved ones out there. Loved ones I didn't even know I had for Pete's sake.

Perhaps this has been a lesson in being selfless. Pay better attention to what others are going thru. The world does not revolve around you Ms. Spindler. It's a hard pill to swallow, I know, right? Gulp! There. I did it. Now, mind if I pray for you?