I Felt Your Presence


I Felt Your Presence

 

On the day you left me

The winds were cold

A chill in the air

Tears falling gently

Music played softly

Hugs and handshakes

Familiar words spoken

Light rose once again

Darkness fell behind

But as you were

Being laid to rest

God gave me a gentle nudge

I looked up to the skies

And saw the most

Elegant, the largest

Gentle snow flakes falling.

I miss you buddy

You are forever in my thoughts.

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

04.05.2014

snowflakes 2

Daily Prompt; Twilight Zone, ( I Couldn’t Help Crying While Writing This)


http://dailypost.wordpress.com, DP, Daily Prompt

Ever have an experience that felt surreal, as though you’d been suddenly transported into the twilight zone, where time seemed to warp, perhaps slowing down or speeding up? Tell us all about it. If you haven’t had an experience in real life that you can draw from, write a fictional account of a surreal experience.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SURREAL.

I have not had a real experience, so this is partially  fabricated for Daily Prompt.

It is a Saturday evening. The day has been quiet. Al has slept 90% of the day. He did eat a small breakfast of baby cereal mixed with applesauce. For lunch he had sweet potatoes and I pureed a banana and some apple juice. He ate most of the main dish but had no room for the dessert.

I cleaned the house and did a little bit of rearranging. I tend to do this when there is no one to speak to. I checked on Al frequently along with repositioning him often. He is trying very hard to speak today, but his voice is but a low whisper.

Supper time came and I went in to offer him a bite to eat, but he refused. I immediately checked his temperature. It was hovering at about 96 degrees. His skin felt cool but not clammy. He looked at me with some prompting and still refused to eat.

This is alright. I don’t want to force him to eat. He will eat when he is hungry. As a last resort a half an hour later I offered him some of his favorite ice-cream, and he refused. Now I knew things were not right.

Al has put me through a few moments the past several days. I find myself wondering if he will be here in the morning, but when I get up, I am able to say a big good morning to eyes that greet me as I walk in.

I made sure he was still comfortable and not cold  and then went and poured myself a cup of coffee. I sat down here to the computer where I had spent a great deal of time tinkering with my sound on my computer.

I had plugged in my headphones a few days ago and ever since then I have not been able to hear sound coming from the speakers. I have tested and rechecked until my eyeballs started spinning.Spinning_eyeball_transparent

I went back in to check on Al again and he was trying to tell me something. I leaned down as close as I could get and I figured out he was telling me, ” I feel sick all over.”

I told him I sure wish I could do something for him and that he didn’t need to eat unless he wanted to. I put Dukes of Hazard on for him and came back out to my cold coffee.

The only lights on in the house were my computer light and Al’s TV. I decided to play a game and was half-way  through the first one when I saw sparks coming from Al’s room. It was like lightning  shooting from everywhere.Animated_Lightning_Strike_by_geans123

The hairs stood up on my arms and my body froze in my seat. I stared at it and somehow I forced myself to get up and walk cautiously to his room.

When I peeked in I saw the most magnificent view I suspect I will ever see in my life.

There were several angels .angels1 They were in mid-air and they were surrounding Al.Al

At the head of the bed stood Jesus. Jesus 3He was lifting Al right out of his bed. He held Al close to him and I looked at my brother and held out my arms to him.

It was as if Al didn’t even see me. His eyes rested upon his heavenly Father. The lights grew bright in his room and the lightening show stopped.

I watched as Jesus lifted him up and over our home. Al was being freed of MSA. The terrible pain that he had been fighting for so many years was now over.

I wept into my hands. Tears of sorrow and tears of happiness that Al was once again going to be smiling. The only thing I ever wished for him was smiles and now as I looked up into the skies, I could see Jesus opening the gates and then the two of them disappeared.

jesus at the gate 2I fell to the floor and praised Jesus for healing the brother I loved so dear. After minutes passed, I stood up and gazed around the room.

Stillness hit me. Silence filled every crack. I walked slowly around his room picking up one car at a time.

Tears rolled down my eyes as I knew there would always be a special bond between Al’s collection of cars and me.

I would treasure them for the rest of my days. I picked up his favorite Coca Cola pieces and cuddled them to my chest. Slowly I walked to the door and before I closed it behind me I turned back one more time and looked up to the heavens. I whispered to my brother, I love you bud. I will always love you. You filled my heart with wonderful memories. You taught me patience and understanding. You gave me wonderful memories. Take good care of him God. Al promised to save me a spot. Watch over him angels, until I find myself standing next to him.

 

And My Eyes…………


cloudsAnd my eyes rose to the heavens

And I saw a whirl in the skies

It opened my eyes

Flung open my heart

Ripped it out of my soul

Laid it out on the ground

And the dark shadows

Came scrambling after me

Ready to crush my belief

And tears rolled from my eyes

As my hands tossed up above

Please save me dear Lord

They are coming for me

And I don’t want to be

I am afraid my sweet God

Lift me from this sod

Pick up my beating heart

Place it where it did start

Lift me up in your arms

Please keep me from harm

And the skies did whirl

And the clouds they did swirl

As my God came to appear

And I felt him so near

I cried on his chest

And he gave me needed rest

And the clouds closed up once more

And God gently shut the door

And all was so right

As I was led into the light

I knew that I could

I knew that I should

Believe in him more

For now and ever more.

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

02.04.2014

My Faith in a Stranger


I just saw this photo that Wendy posted to my timeline on Facebook. It was so beautiful, and since this is the main topic with Al most days I thought I would print it off for him.

jesus at the gate 2Every night before lights off Al asks for two things. He doesn’t need to tell me what he wants, I know from many nights. Prayer time and the movie, The Christmas Story.

Although he can no longer speak, I know his request by heart. Ask Jesus to come and take him home.

When I saw this, my heart sunk and my eyes became wet.

How can someone I have never seen affect me to the point of tears? For Al and me, we were brought up in the church. The First Brethren Church in fact. We went every Sunday with our parents.

As we got older Al and I went on Sunday evenings. I became involved with the choir. Al and I partook in different plays. Eventually I took over the Junior Choir as director. Al continued his routine of going every Sunday from way back when.

Sunday evenings he went to church and then came home and read his Bible. I know for a fact that Al has read his Bible completely through at least four times. I got married to a military man and lived in Germany for a year.

The military had church every  Sunday also, but each week  was for a different religion. I remember there were Sundays for Jews, Catholics etc. I got out of the habit of going.

It was almost too easy to drift away. I was married, and living in a new country. I let God be placed on the back burner and lived my life. When things went wrong or I became scared, I would quickly bring Jesus up front and pray like crazy.

Jesus never left me. No matter how much I tried to ignore what I had been taught he always filtered to the front burner. I was the one who left him. When our dad became ill, I found my way back to my upbringing.

I told Jesus I wanted him to be my priority again. I prayed for months and then I learned how to talk to him like he was my best friend. Everything that went right, I thanked him and everything that went bad, I blamed him.

As dad became closer to heaven’s doors, I inched my way into trusting God more than ever. I have never looked back. I rely on him for all that I am and do.

Now that Al is so ill I have fallen. Not fallen away from God, but more like questioned him. I have screamed at him, cried to him, told him how much I love him and have told him I am sorry for my behavior many times over.

Today, as I watch my brother slip closer into Jesus arms I am not scared to see Jesus. I am scared for myself. A sadness creeps over me at the human loss I am about to take on. This is where my strength comes from. This is how I make it day-to-day.

I asked Hospice today when they decide the time is right for them to start staying longer or making more visits. The answer was poor in my eyes. I was told they have to follow the law about driving in bad weather, so they can’t come anymore than they are scheduled. I felt like saying how sorry I was for not planning Al’s illness for warmer months, but I kept quiet.

I hear many times through this terrible winter that the only time we should be out driving  is to go to and from our job. I instantly looked at the nurse and replaced the words friend and hospice to employee, and found it soured me.

Al is my brother, but he is her job. I explained that I didn’t want to be here alone with him dying. I told her I was afraid he would die while it was just him and me. She just looked at me, then said she would try to get a volunteer to come over to sit with me. I thought to myself, how can a volunteer come and she, the nurse, who is getting paid can’t?

I instantly felt embarrassed. I am not an infant. I don’t need a babysitter.  I am not that weak, but I do expect, well I don’t know what I expect, but I expected more from this one limb from the tree for support of Al and me.

Al is in pain and yet he seems comfortable. I can see when I look at him that he is nearing Heaven’s gates very soon. I won’t go into graphics here for the weak stomachs, but I recognize the signs from 23 years of taking care of the elderly and dying.

So when it comes down to it I can cry when I see the photo. I do not know this person as I don’t know many of you personally. I do know that I trust many of you, the same as I trust God.

In the end I can and do feel alone so much of the time. I beg my child at times to come down and see Al. I cry silently that I may get a call from my kids or friends, just wondering how Al is.  I plead with Hospice. I count on my caregivers to be here. But God is here.I am not really alone.  He is standing with Al and keeping him calm. He is beginning the process of opening the gates, and for this I cry.

Tears for losing my brother and tears that he will be happy once again. Al will without a doubt watch over me and wave. He will show me those big, blue eyes and that familiar twinkle will once again shine. The heavens will open up and the skin will be shed away and Al will be free to smile once again.

It’s Getting Closer and More Familiar


Miles away, days away, a few hours away, half an hour away. Yes, only the world outside my block is dangerous. You think? None of us are safe anymore. It is so scary to me. Even at my age I imagine you can play the same game at your age.

I can remember trick-or-treating until dark with my friends, and no checking out the candy bag by mom.

I can remember riding my bike in the dark heading home on a Friday night from Grandma’s.

I can remember craving ice-cream and driving alone into the store way past dark and thinking nothing of it.

I can remember when my middle son came home from school one day there was a bully, who broke his glasses. I called the school and they talked to that kid’s parents. The parents paid for my son’s new glasses and the incident was over and forgotten.

I can remember when I heard of shootings it was in some huge inner city. I had no fear, only carried sadness for those families involved.

I can remember each school morning the first thing after attendance was called, we kids along with the teacher all stood up and stared at the flag stating the Pledge of Allegiance.

I can remember when we went to movies and laughed and ate buttery popcorn, thinking nothing but good thoughts.

I can remember the past few years of movie shootings, school shootings, God being taken out of everything possible, being afraid of the dark, trying hard not to go out after dark, locking my car and house doors, (even when I am home.)

School pregnancies were rare, now they are common.

Rape was a hush word, now it is up to the one who spills their guts to prove their innocence.

Life has surely changed. Now we have to be careful no matter where we work, live and play.

Last night a half an hour down the road a young man went into a Martin’s grocery store and killed two employees. Two ladies who will never see their lives lived out. I shuddered and goose bumps rose on my arms as I thought, this is getting too close to home.

What is it going to take? When is it going to stop?  I fear for my grandchildren. I fear for all babies. Who is going to help them with so many divorced families and two-person work people and no word of God is in the house? Who is going to take the needed time and let these youth know they are loved?

Is it our job as the employee,employer, neighbor, school counselors, ministers, parents, siblings, policemen to help nurture these kids? You bet it is. It is our land, the land we live and play in. We thrive here together. One for all and all for one.

Just a last added tidbit I just heard on the news just now. A priest once again resigns as his secret became public that he has been molesting children.

 

 

Take God out of everything? You decide…………crimeshotgunchildrenjesuslookingdown

360 Turn-a-Bout


Well, it was short-lived. A beautiful, magical 24 hours where Al was at peace with himself and the world. But last night he did a 360. At 8pm he suddenly became confused. He didn’t know what day it was, nor time.

He was concerned whether Stacy, the caregiver would be here this morning. He was and still is restless. He says his hands are creeping and frozen. When he comments this, he is telling me his hands feel like they are moving and yet frozen in place at the same time.

The sleep I dreamed about getting two nights in a row didn’t happen. In fact, I didn’t sleep at all last night as he kept calling me in his room to repeat his fears.

This morning the caregiver came and she gave him a bath. I trimmed his moustache. She and I really doted on him but he just cried and cried. He was fearful of dying today. He has seen shadows in his room for a couple of days.

He hasn’t seen our parents or Jesus for some time. The shadows have replaced them I am thinking. He has me say a prayer for him each evening but this morning he asked me to pray for him. His request was for me to ask God to send Mom here.

I can’t pinpoint what the issue really is. Is he afraid of dying or is he afraid of dying alone. Other wise why would he have me ask God to send Mom here to help him go home. I have said about everything possible I can think of.

I have followed all leads that you have given me. I thought we had this whole thing licked when he was so calm and comfortable those 24 hours. I was just in there and I rubbed his arms. His veins are popped up as if he has been working on huge weights at the gym.

I am so hoping that as I am writing this he has drifted off to sleep as it is quiet through the monitor. He refuses to have any noise in his room and no light on at all. Pure silence is what he is requesting.

I know I am a repeater as of late, but I am coming to you once again to pray for that calm to return. I am asking you to say the same things I ask God for. To ease Al’s fear of dying and to let him go gracefully.

In my wildest nightmares that I have been having lately, I see Al screaming and crying as God is lifting him home. I don’t want this to be a reality. I am strong as you say, but I am no Super Woman.

So please stick with me friends, I am pleading for your help once again.

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An MSA Caregiver on a Yo-Yo


How does a yo-yo go? Up and down, up and down, nice and steady, slow then quick.yo yo

This is how I feel. Slow and sleepy. Sometimes full of energy. Days of quick thinking, others too tired for one thought.

I wonder if this is how other caregivers feel? I wish in some ways they did, then I wouldn’t feel so stupid. And other ways I hope they don’t because this is no fun.

It seems anymore Al’s body is totally frozen. Me or the caregiver do everything we can to keep him comfortable. He has some good days which allow some laughter in the house. But mainly there are bad days, scary moments, when we hold our breath, wondering if this will be Al’s last day.

You know? I hate feeling that way. Who in the world keeps track of breathing, pain, and lack of movement, coughing, swallowing? It isn’t even normal. To a stranger it may seem like this gal is a human freak.

Today, Al was in one of his needy moods. He wanted everything and nothing. He was never satisfied. His biggest complaint was he wanted out of bed. I have heard this many times. I know that last winter when I was sick for 30 days, I spent most of it in bed.

I know how much worse I felt not being able to feel free enough to move around. I kept pondering on that as I kept hearing Al pleading to get up. So while the caregiver was here today I decided to do an experiment.

It wasn’t so much for me. I already knew the answers. It was more for Al. I wanted him to see for himself that he could not get up. I guess it was a test that I hoped Al passed mentally.

So the caregiver and I grabbed a hold of him from all sides and we set him on the side of the bed. The first thing I noticed is his legs. I hate to be so graphic but in order for you to understand how they reacted I have to speak it.

His legs reminded me of a fish just out of water. They flopped around with no control at all. Soon they quieted down and just hung there. I then asked him how he felt but he didn’t answer.

He wanted to stand. Before I answered that I asked him to hold his head up so he could see what he was doing, but he failed. He raised his head about half an inch but it wouldn’t budge above that.

I asked him to raise his legs to see if he had any control. One leg went up a couple of inches and the other didn’t rise. With the head being dropped so long I was afraid he would cut off his own breathing, so we placed him back in bed.

He still told me he wanted to try to stand. So I guess my test failed and he repeated his request for getting up. Now this is emotionally draining to me. I couldn’t please him and I couldn’t do as he wanted.

We are now using the fingers for yes and no answers. One finger for yes, two for no.  I can no longer hear or understand what he is saying. When I lean in close to him I can hear his voice, but still can’t make out the words.

Now he is laying there with no facial expressions. He ate two bites of supper. His hands are so swollen and puffy. I asked the nurse why this has been happening the past few days and she stated circulation, or lack of.

I hear Al rattling but we can’t use the Aspiration machine as the mucus is too far down in his throat, and yet his lungs don’t sound bad at all. He is not swallowing his own drool, and I think it is mixing with the mucus, making him cough so much.

So this is one of those bad days. I get so tired of reading my print back and seeing what a pathetic creature I have turned into. I have considered not writing anymore until this is over, but I don’t think I would survive as well as I have without your comments.

Let’s just face facts. I am not as strong as a Christian should be. I get too tired and too emotionally drained. I try, I really try to be positive, but it is darn hard, let me tell you. I keep finding myself begging God to release Al from his pain. Thousands of prayers are being said for him daily and yet he lingers.

If only I could make these last days worth living, but alas, I can not. All I can do is hold his hand, rub his arm, reposition him, keep him dry and offer him food. The rest is up to him and God.

I carry guilt over not doing better for him. Sorrow from watching him become lifeless, and anger at why he is being allowed to continue on with no purpose. I am sorry, today is one of those bad days. I hope for a better day tomorrow, but I need to be realistic.

Al has seen our parents and Jesus. He truly is the lucky one. He is my brother who has fought this battle with all his might. His legs may have flopped like a fish out of control, but his soul is beautiful like the fish of the sea.

fish

Ten Minutes to Midnite and Al had a Visitor


I am not writing this to put anyone in a sad mode nor for any other reason than I have been alone with Al since before supper last night and I am just beat. This is one of those posts that is for me to just get it out in the open instead of reliving it.

Last night wasn’t that bad. Things didn’t begin to get worse until 11:50pm. Yes, ten minutes before the new year kicked in. I was sort of listening to the New Year’s Eve program and Al was watching Dave Letterman.

All of a sudden Al calls me in his room in the loudest voice I have heard out of him in some time. I went in and he said, ” Look, we have a visitor.” I looked around but I didn’t see anyone.

He went on with, ” Right here, beside me. Look beside me.” I looked but didn’t see a thing. Although I will admit I caught my breath and the hairs on my arms stood straight up.

Jesus is here.” I was speechless. Al went on to tell me that Jesus was sitting right beside him just watching him. Then suddenly Al began praying. I could make out some words he was saying but he was talking so soft that I struggled to hear.

I could hear him saying, ” Please take me home. Please take me home. I am sick. I want to go home”. This praying went on for about ten minutes. The clock was ticking down to midnight. I was holding Al’s hand while the people on the TV were laughing and having a good time. Then the numbers started. !0,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, Happy New Year.

Al quit breathing. My heart was racing. I looked all around the room but saw nor felt anything, but I knew without a doubt Al was seeing and having a conversation with God right there in front of me.

Finally he gasped and took a deep breath. Had he almost gone to heaven with Jesus? Had his heart decided to stop for a moment? I don’t know what happened but then it was over.

Al laid silent and I stood beside him stroking his hand. It seemed we were this way for sometime. He went to sleep and I went to bed going over in my mind what had just happened.

It felt weird. The world was moving into a new year and yet I remained glued to 2013. Time was speeding by me and yet standing still.

He was restless last night during the night. I was up with him several times. His hands and fingers are pretty swollen today. I don’t know if it is from his hands contracting or if it is his MSA or heart. The nurse will be here tomorrow and I shall be asking, although she will most likely notice it right away.

So here it is 2014. The hopes are brought into this new day. My hope is still that Al finds peace sooner than later.

DSC00183purple candles

Lessons In Every Situation, Roar Into 2014


2013 for me. I don’t remember a whole lot. Life seems quite a blur. Al was in the nursing home from January until June. I remember plowing through snow and cold to go see him. I never wanted him to think I didn’t care.

Groceries were not bought much. The bills remained the same most of the year. The TV shows got sillier. None of them really grabbed my attention except American Idol. Somehow looking forward to two nights a week to this show made the winter months go by faster.

June came and Al came home and then life was still not that bad. Life is never as bad as we think it is in the moment we are living it. When we move on down the road and are faced with different challenges, we sometimes look back and think, I wish I could go back to that time.

For a while I was still able to get Al in the car. We went to some antique shops. We went out to eat. I was even able to take him to one more big car show. We went places and Al was placed in an adult program where he could socialize with others. Life seemed pretty good.

Then it was like a blink in an eye life began to change for the worse. Al’s MSA (Multiple System Atrophy) seemed to really kick in. No longer was I able to get him in the car alone, and with no help we had to give up the outings. Life became a little more quiet for him and me.

In no time at all Hospice was involved. Al went from being able to shave himself to me shaving him. He no longer could brush his teeth, I did it for him. He went from finger foods to some help with eating to now; which I feed him all of his food and drinks.

He went from a being able to stand with assistance in his wheelchair to his legs no longer holding him up. Today, he is bed bound. He gets all of his baths in bed. Only a month ago he was still able with lots of help to get a shower.

Now he stares at the TV when his vision will focus. His eyes water, his fingers and hands are locked in a prayer position. His legs are curled in a fetal position, not bad, but getting there.

Instead of him and I decorating for Halloween and Christmas, I did it alone. Al was in the hospital during Thanksgiving and he slept through Christmas. Family came but Al remained in bed.

I have learned to lean on God more and more through this illness of Al’s. I have been angry at God, screamed at him, asked for forgiveness for not being as faithful as I could. I have learned to lean on others for help, such as Hospice, homemakers and ministers.

I have learned who my true friends are and who I can count on when in need. I have learned that I have a huge support system with many people on the internet. I have been shown how many care about Al by all the cards and gifts that have been sent.

I have been taught that to gain strength, all I have to do is pray about it. I have learned how to cook for one and puree for Al. My laundry has doubled, cleaning is still going strong. I am tired and now try to nap when I can. I have learned that the house will always be waiting here for me. The dirt is going anywhere.

I am glad that this year is ending tonight. I would not really want to relive it again. I am hopeful that things will be brighter in 2014. I pray that the Obama Healthcare works itself out.

I hope more lean on their own strength and realize they have more to offer this world than they think. I hope Al finds peace and is reunited with our parents. I pray that I will be able to move on and remember Al with smiles. I hope jobs pick-up and crime is less. Schools offer the basics and we have less drop-outs than ever.

My family will expand by two this new year. I wish for my own family good health and common sense, so that they can survive yet another year. Life isn’t easy, it won’t be from this day on. But with careful consideration and a loving Mom standing behind them, they too will find what they seek.

I hope that each of you stay safe tonight. If you are going to drink, please don’t drive. Beware of your surroundings. Don’t be too proud to take a taxi home if you need to. Tell you children you love them. Hug your parents. Stay positive. We are in this together no matter how many miles separate us. It is up to you and me my friends, to make or break this world.

So to each one of you, Happy New Year, 2014.

P.S. Don’t forget to change your calendars and write 2014 on your checks tomorrow.

 

 

I-Love-You-Wallpapers-5

Christmas Gone, New Year Song


Christmas Gone, New Year Song

Christmas is gone

No more songs

No more lights

Oh so bright

No more foods

That were so good

Unwanted pounds

Sneaking all around

Memories dear

I will hold all year.

Now another night

Where some will fight

Others party all night

But I will remain

Sober and sane

I’ll watch the big ball fall

And then I shall shout and call

Happy New Year 2014 to all.

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

12.30.2013

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

Here are a few photos of what I see left of Christmas from within my home.

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