Oh the Valleys we Travel Through on our way to Heaven


It seems so right that I changed the name of my blog page to Who Am I, months ago. Why? Because anymore, I don’t really know who I am.

I know I am a child of God, but here on earth, I just don’t know. I know I am a mom to three and a grandma to several, but some days, I don’t feel like a good mom. I have one child who pretty much has disowned me, it seems. I have begged, pleaded, called and text but no answers are provided for me on what I may have done.

This has turned my health upside down. My blood pressure is now messed up going higher than lower. I am stressed with sadness that keeps my veil of happiness covered by blackness.

I have apologized, sat for hours wondering what I may have said or done without realizing it may hurt others. I am getting sick and I find myself wishing I was at the end of my journey here on earth.

I snap out of that thought though because I am not really ready to die yet. I even called my primary and neurologist and have spoken to both about this up and down blood pressure problem I am having.

I know that my diagnosis has been changed from Parkinson’s to probable MSA. This sickens me. Not so much because it will shorten my life; but because I won’t be as lucky as my brother was in having a sister to take care of him. I will go through this alone with God beside me; which means I am truly not alone.

Life has not been a bowl of cherries as of the past few weeks and I am grateful that Spring as officially arrived and I can get lost in my camera once again outdoors.

Oh the valleys we travel through on our way to heaven.

cropped-terry

In the Field of Flowers


I sat on a broken tree stump
Gazing out over the field of flowers
I tried counting each one but I failed
I saw your name printed on a stem
When I looked at the buds
I swear they were eyes
And you were reading my heart
I raised my hand out as if I
Thought you would bend your petals towards me
The wind blew gently, causing you to bow my way.
Your petals bent and I could see the form you displayed
A smile on your face, seeds spilling as tears
You miss me too. The wind shifted the other way
You stood tall and very still. I took a picture of you
That I will keep in my heart forever.
We communicated; you and I
I feel an inner peace knowing that
We miss each other the same and
I will remain as strong as you are standing
In the field of flowers.

Written by,
Terry Shepherd

 

 

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Filling the Gap


Paul spent most days in a routine. He began by waking promptly at five in the morning. He read a chapter in his Bible then got dressed. In the kitchen he started his coffee maker and then stared out the small window while listening to the noise of the coffee perking and inviting memories to help set his day.

After eating a bowl of oatmeal with butter and honey, he tidied up the kitchen, grabbed his jacket and hat, then headed for the garage. He guided his car to the three blocks ahead, turned down the little, gravel path and shut the car off. There, he sat for however long it took to make him feel the comfort he needed.

His wife, Anna, had been buried here seven months ago this day. She had passed a way from a grueling disease. It was a long battle and they both had not won. It was a neurological disease called Multiple System Atrophy.

Prior to this disease, their map of life had been drawn by thick, dark lines. Travels to Arizona and New Mexico had been penciled in. Sights of a large cruise ship sailing along the waters was in the making.

Then, out of the blue, Anna started running into things. Her fingers began to have a tremor in them. It seemed, as Paul remembered back, that each few months, a new symptom arrived. He could remember her first fall, her first choking, the day she got weak while tending to her flowers. Everything was crystal clear now but back then it was a train traveling fast on the rails; a real blur.

“I miss you so much Anna. Life is definitely not the same. I now no longer dream of tomorrow. In fact, I tore up that map.” Paul waited, as if for a response from Anna on what he had done. Feeling nothing, he got out of  his car and stood in front of the flowers he had planted.  When the time felt right, he got back in his car and headed home.

Once home he let the noise of the television and the chimes of his clock keep him company. In the midst of this one afternoon, a knock at the door interrupted his thoughts. Opening the door, he saw his friend  Gene standing before him. He let him in and they both sat down in the living room.

” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you Paul. I figured I would just come on by and pay you a visit. How are you doing my friend?”

” Oh, I’m fine you know. No new aches or pains. God let me breathe in a new day. I went down and visited Anna. I told her how much I miss her.”

“That’s exactly one of the reasons I stopped by Paul. There is this woman at church that I think could use your help.”

“Oh”, Paul said as he laughed,”I’m not interested in any sort of relationship. It just hasn’t been long enough. My mind is always on my wife, Anna.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean that kind of relationship”, he said as he slapped his hand on his pants with laughter. “I mean, she is hurting. She’s got some sort of sickness. She’s been feeling all alone. She says no one understands how she feels. I figured you are a sensitive man. Maybe you could just be a good listener. This would be a good opportunity to get yourself a new friend; something to add to your day.”

Paul didn’t say anything and Gene didn’t push the topic. Instead, they turned to the weather and what the week hoped to bring. After about an hour, Gene said it was time to go. Paul walked him to the door and they patted each other on the back. “See you in church Sunday.” Paul nodded.

The days went by and Sunday arrived. Paul got his Sunday clothes on, grabbed his Bible and headed to church. He smiled and shook hands with the greeters. He spoke about nothing important to others. He headed down the aisle to his seat he sat in each Sunday. There sat his friend Gene. Beside him was his wife, Gloria and beside her was a woman sitting in a wheelchair.

She looked at him and he at her. He nodded and sat down, thumbing through the church bulletin. The choir began singing and Paul sat and thought about what was being said. He listened to the sermon which was on people helping people.

Afterwards, there was a church dinner. This church had a carry-in every couple of weeks. It was a nice time shared among all. It gave purpose to the day and week ahead. Paul found himself sitting between this lady in the wheelchair, Gloria and Gene sitting on the opposite side of the table.

Talk was light. Smiles were shared. Gene introduced the stranger. Star was her name. Paul found himself watching her as she ate. She dropped food at times. It looked like she was struggling a little with swallowing. He wondered what condition she had that made her do that. It threw him back to his memories of when his dear wife did that too.

After the dinner was done, people either helped clean-up or headed out the church doors. For a brief time, Paul and Star were the only ones left sitting at the table. They exchanged words that would not be remembered later.  Soon the silence could be heard. Everyone had left. Gene and Gloria got their coats on and the two helped Star with her coat on. They helped her to their car and Paul followed, watching them help get Star situated.

Weeks turned into months and it seemed every Sunday a new routine had been formed. Paul sat with Star and the two opened up more and in time they became good friends. Paul would share his memories of his wife and Star would share about her life and medical condition.

One Sunday, Paul had been invited over to Gene and Gloria’s house for dinner. When he arrived and being let in; he noticed immediately that Star had been invited also. Paul didn’t get upset. Instead, he found himself sitting next to her on the couch. The two chatted while dinner was being finished. In face, the two chatted so much, Gene couldn’t help but smile to himself, knowing he had made a good decision on introducing the two.

The following Monday, after Paul returned from his visit to see his wife, the phone was ringing as he walked through the door. He answered it to learn that Star had fallen and was in the hospital.

He felt a tug at his heart that he didn’t expect to feel. He thanked the caller and went about fixing himself his lunch. This consisted of some left-over baked chicken and a half of a baked potato he hadn’t eaten before.

He tidied up and decided to go to the hospital to see Star. He learned she had fallen out of her wheelchair while trying to reach for something and this fall had caused a broken hip. After the completion of the ER, Star was transferred to a room upstairs for a few days of observation and to make sure she was healing properly.

After that time went by, she was transferred to a local nursing home for rehabilitation. Paul learned she would be their approximately six weeks. Now, after his usual routine of daily living, he also added the daily visits to see Star.

He brought her little trinkets that sometimes included her favorite candy, or a new book to read. He stayed most days until the supper hour. He found himself wishing he didn’t have to leave. Star felt the same way. She couldn’t hide the fact  from herself that Paul brought her friendship which included a feeling of peace and a lingering to have the next day’s visit arrive.

There seemed to be a lighter step in Paul’s life. He told himself over and over he didn’t love Star. He could love no other woman except his Anna, but yet, this new friend, stirred something within him.

After a couple of weeks went by, Paul made his usual visit. He entered the empty room. Where was Star, he wondered. He walked out to the nurse’s station to learn that Star had been having a temperature and her lungs seemed congested. They had her transferred to the hospital for further investigation. Paul thanked the nurse for the information.

He took the one rose he had brought with him and laid it gently on the pillow of the made bed of Stars. He left the building and headed for the hospital. When he entered, he asked what room number she was in. The receptionist told him and he took the elevators to the fourth floor.

There was Star. She was laying in a bed. IV’s were hooked up to  her. He saw two of them. A monitor was keeping track of her blood pressure and heart rate. Star wasn’t talking. She was so quiet it scared Paul.

A nurse came in and checked on Star. She smiled at Paul but said nothing. Paul pulled up a chair close to Star. He watched her sleeping. His thoughts turned to prayers to the almighty God. He felt a tear drip on his folded hands. He knew in his heart that he had come to know and love this woman.

He started whispering to Star. He told her how he felt about her. ” I don’t know when it happened dear Star, but some where along the way, I grew feelings for you. I hope you can hear me. I just have to tell you this because I want to know if you feel anything for me other than friendship.”

He held her hand but nothing came out of her mouth. He sat there for hours, waiting for her to open her eyes. Suddenly her eyes twitched and she opened them. She looked at him but said nothing. Instead, she squeezed his hand. He took this as she was answering his question, that yes, she felt something for  him too.

Paul squeezed her hand back and then kissed her hand. He beamed and the two shared an emotion that would never be felt again. Paul finally decided he had to leave. His watch told him it was time for supper. He leaned in and kissed her forehead and whispered that he would be back the next day. Star closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

Paul stopped at a small restaurant that served home-cooking. He ordered the special, meatloaf dinner. In this was a thick piece of meatloaf which included mashed potatoes and green beans. It was way too much food and he requested a take-home box for the leftovers.

When he arrived home, he turned the television on. He tuned in to some game show. He listened to it but kept thinking about what would Anna be thinking about Star. He fell asleep and was woken to the sound of the phone.

“Paul, I’m going to stop by in a few minutes. Get your coat and hat and be ready to go. There’s been a change at the hospital with Star. You and I are going to go visit her.” Paul hung up and got ready.

In no time at all they went through the double doors of the hospital and were standing in the doorway of Star’s room. Two nurses were in there. They saw Paul and Gene and hung their heads in silence. They took the white sheet and covered Star’s body then walked up to her friends and patted them on the back. “I’m sorry gentlemen. She just couldn’t fight it anymore. The infection in her lungs just got too big.” The nurses gave them a hug and walked out of the room.

Paul and Gene walked over to the bed. Paul reached down and felt Star’s hand through the sheet. He held it until Gene whispered ,”It’s time to go I think.” Paul let go of her hand and kissed his palm and transferred it to  her forehead. The two turned and left in silence, Gene’s arm around Paul’s shoulder, patting him, like everything is going to be okay.

 

Will everything be okay? Is death something that we can heal from?

Is it possible to love twice in a life time? 

Life sure doesn’t seem fair at times does it?

God placed us on this earth to learn and feel love towards others. For those of us who have experienced these feelings, we somehow manage to go on with our lives, but the void left behind never fully closes.

This story was written by;

Terry Shepherd

02/21/2019

January is Gone


t’s been a rough month
Words spearing my brain
I’m actually glad this month’s over
Now dreaming of rain and Spring.
 
Spring is all about new
New hope and answered prayers
I know God listens to my words
Because he is everywhere.
 
On the other side of the coin
Sadness can fill my eyes
It’s so close to my brother’s passing
When I was forced to say my goodbyes.
 
From this day forward
Alvin will occupy my mind
Still seems like only yesterday
He and I had so much time.
 
Our days are filled with goodness
Our nights can be like hell
I just have to remember to be thankful
While God teaches me to sit a spell.
 
It’s hard to not be guessing
What tomorrow may or may not bring
Will we still be like this morning?
Can time really change everything?
 
My faith is what I carry
In a bucket wrapped in my heart
I have to remember to refill it
Until this earth I depart.
 
Written by,
Terry Shepherd
 
Dedicated to life and my brother, Alvin Miller.

The Visit


THE VISIT
 
I can’t get it out of my mind. I keep thinking about the dream I had last night.
 
With the illness I have; I usually have terrible nightmares, always waking up before I die, but to see my brother in my dream and be able to talk to him was bigger than anything I have experienced.
 
I am a thinker by nature so it is not unusual for me to have been pondering on how I made this dream happen. Can I make it happen again?
 
Alvin was healed. He was standing tall. He wasn’t crying and he didn’t act afraid of life. He smiled that big, familiar smile I always saw.
 
We talked. In my dream it didn’t seem like we chatted for a very lengthy period, before I woke up, but I remembered it and i still remember it.
 
I have definitely moved on since his passing. I have managed to hide my tears and sadness. I have laughed among friends. This is the part that has moved on.
 
There is an injured snail crawling inside my spirit though. The feelers come out when I am all alone and this is when it seems like only yesterday; I walked into his bedroom and found he had passed.
 
The dagger still punctures my soul and heart. The eyes well up instantly. I sit. I remember. I cry. I don’t think we ever truly get over the death of a loved one.
 
I don’t know if we ever heal completely. It is complete though. He was born. He lived. He passed. I think there is a bigger torture when there is no final stage of life.
 
When friends or family hurt us and it is never settled. That sword just keeps twisting and stabbing. The mind rolls over big hills and stumbles over boulders as we try to find peace that is now broken.
 
How do we go forward? How do we hide the memories of what once made us smile. How do we hide the tears in our daily living?
 
It is so difficult but this is something each of us has to deal with and lay to rest. God placed us here to send the message out to others about his love.
 
God gave us feelings so we can love and hurt and hug and smile and heal. God gave us ears so we can listen to his message, a body who can accept a hug from another person.
 
We must give these heavy burdens to God. We need to carry our faith in large baskets, and know that whatever the problem; God will carry us through it. We have to believe this.
 
Other wise, we will be injured creatures, walking this earth, thinking only of our pain. We will not be able to reach out to others who need us or are hurting.
 
This dream that I was honored to be a part of was a wonderful vision. A gift from God you might say. I have told God so many times how my life will never be the same, how much I miss my brother.
 
God showed me last night, in my dream, that no matter what pain I am going through in my waking hours, he is right there, holding my hand, guiding me and showing me his love.
 
Thank-you God, for allowing the visit to happen between me and my brother.
 
Written by,
Terry Shepherd
October, 15, 2018
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It Should Have Never Happened This Way


She was poor. He was poor. The two together were rich in love. They scraped and saved and were able to put a down payment on a small property outside of town. It had one acre which was plenty big enough for the garden they wanted to plant. The house was needing a lot of love and they knew with time; they could fix it up real nice.

 

One by one the five children were born. Money got tighter but they made it. They grew their vegetables.  They butchered a cow once a year. They canned wild berries and peaches from the trees. They made their own applesauce. Nothing was wasted.

 

Christmas and birthdays were celebrated with a home-made cake with a vanilla frosting and there was always a stitched gift of some sort that each child needed at that particular time.

 

The kids were sent to the one-room school which had stood for over one hundred years. They attended until the parents thought they had learned enough and then kept them home to  help out on the land.

 

The kids seemed good in the parents eyes; but their deep thoughts were on anything but this home. They wanted more. They had read plenty of high society magazines and books and they knew there was a bigger world out there.

 

As each one grew up and found their own way, they either moved out and on or got married and bought a property in town. There wasn’t much communication between the kids and parents after those days. They seemed to be more interested in obtaining what they thought they lacked as kids and the parents were dealing with more and more health issues.

 

They didn’t have health care insurance. Oh, they got sick now and then. A cold, a flu to deal with or a bad stomach ache. Neither of them had thought or been taught about what would or could happen when they got old.

 

Pa had recurring pain in his chest until one day he fell down. He never got back up and the family came and paid their last respects out back underneath the big oak tree. It was right after that; they left to go back to their lives.

 

Ma tried her best to carry on what needed to be done each day; but she was not able to keep up. She was tired. She was ailing and she was old. Her gray hair was thinned. Her fingers had bumps in them from Arthritis. Her legs ached.

 

After about six months went by, she had a stroke. No one actually knew the real facts about how long she lay in that house until help arrived. She was checked over by the county doctor and placed in her bed.

 

Once a week the doc would come check on her. He would shake his head trying to figure out what was actually keeping her alive. She knew, but she wouldn’t speak of it. Words for her were hard to get out. Looking around her room, she saw work that needed to be done; but no one helped.

 

The kids came by about once a month. Their children played outside. It was almost like this was a task more than a visit. It was so filled with webs. The kids mainly sat by her bed and said few words. When they felt like the proper time had been spent, they called for the kids letting them know it was time to depart. No child ever said, goodbye grandma.

 

She was lonely. She yearned for the love of her dead husband. She had no reason to live. She made up her mind to take this in her own hands and so that next morning she willed herself to die.

 

Once again, the kids came to pay their respects. After the funeral was over, they went through the home and took what they wanted and took the remains and tossed it in a big burn pile out back.

 

When only ashes were seen, a sudden downpour of rain hit. Lightening struck. Trees were turned over. The sky dark. Thunder was as if it was cursing the kids for what they had done to their parents.

 

The lightening hit the barn and the house, burning it to the ground in no time at all. The kids who had run for cover, found no cover remaining. They were forced to watch as the home they grew up in was demolished. They were forced to hear the demons ravish their souls.

 

It was then, and only then, that the kids seemed to understand what had happened. They came together and held hands. They looked out and over the once loving home that their parents had given them and they wept; but it was too late. They would live with their guilt for the rest of their days.

 

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A Conversation about Multiple System Atrophy


“I can’t do this anymore!”

“Do what?” the mind asked.

“This bouncing back and forth. Keeping my faith. Thinking everything is going to be alright. It’s just too much!”

” I understand what you are saying. I play this game every day, sometimes several times per day. It just gets old. I look down at my body. I see the crepe skin, the bags under my eyes. I see the smile try to widen and the reflection of tears welling in my eyes. I see my swollen legs and feet. I feel the sick feeling in my gut.”

The two sit in silence digesting each other’s words. Shame and guilt over the battle of the thoughts. Realizing there is not a damn thing that can be done. No cures have been found and it doesn’t seem enough people really are aware of the  need.

Thinking back to the days of bright sunshine. “Remember when we used to walk down to the playground and sit in one of the black, leather seats hooked up to a metal  chain? We pushed with our legs. “Remember when we had stronger legs?” Silence.

We felt the breeze brushing our hair and the feeling of freedom and joy. Wow, those were awesome times! “What happened? I don’t get it! It wasn’t supposed to end up like this, for heaven’s sake!”

“Today, our legs swing, but not the way we like. They swing when someone tries to sit me  up on the edge of the bed. They swing and feel like a wet rag when they believe I need to get up and take a real bath.”

“Why don’t people just leave us alone? Can’t they see we are humiliated by them having to witness what our bodies can’t do any longer? Damn it! Just leave us alone. We just want to be left alone and die with some dignity!”

“They love us dummy. That’s why they do the things they do. They don’t understand how we feel just by looking at our faces. They have to read our eyes! How can they feel our pain when we can no longer say a word?” Silence

Letting out a deep sigh, the other follows the lead. “This sucks, you know. We are no longer someone they can count on. They are being forced to ponder on what their life will be like once we are buried and out of sight.

“Yeah, you are right. We ought to feel more compassion for them. We promised them the world and forever, and we are now giving them a view of less time.”

“I agree. Let’s give them a break. Let’s try real hard not to show the pain we are in. Let’s try to show appreciation in any way we can, that they are still sticking beside us, taking care of us. I wonder why they do that? They could just take off and find another life.”

“Dummy, they stick around and do what they do for one reason.”

“What’s that?”

“They love us.”

Written by,

Terry Shepherd

06/26/2018

 

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Stop It! Stop It! Stop It!


Another school shooting just a while ago, here in Indiana, this time. Noblesville  is the city.

I am so tired of this needless killing.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/25/us/indiana-school-shots-fired/index.html

 

I am actually tired of hearing politicians say,” I am praying for this family.” YES! we need prayers. What person doesn’t?

We need help!!! Get off your butts you politicians and make something happen. How would you feel it it was your kids or grandchildren? Would you do more than pray?

Pay for more police on school grounds. Pay for mental health clinics. Pay for therapies. Do something! We will pray with you, for you. We will stand by you, for you. Just help us by making this stop.

#Governor Eric Holcomb, Indiana

#Vice President, Mike Pence

#President, Donald Trump

Daily Prompt/ One Word Prompt


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/luminescent/

The word for today is, luminescent

Luminescent things glow with light. The illuminated screens of your laptop and TV are both luminescent.

And the world could not take anymore. And it began to heat until the grounds bubbled from within. Rockets of water underground burst up as if the knob was turned full force on the hydrant.

And the sin that ravaged through the earth was sucked down into big valleys that opened wide.

And out of the skies, an luminescent light glowed. And all of the people that knew what this represented, knelt down and awaited for their souls to be lifted up unto the heavens.

 

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Daily Prompt/ One Word Prompt


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/incubate/

The word for today is; Incubate

verb
  1. (of a bird) sit on (eggs) in order to keep them warm and bring them to hatching

Can I exchange a bird and an egg for a person and a life? I consider what I did, in a way, incubating.

My mother passed away quite suddenly. She was a God-fearing, loving and kind woman. She helped open a Women’s shelter here in Warsaw. She and my dad used their own funds and bought an old camper. They gutted it and installed everything needed to make funnel cakes. They traveled to the small-town fairs and sold these goodies and donated all the funds, including the monies to purchase ingredients, to the Beaman Home. She helped people and never let on she was helping them.

https://www.thebeamanhome.com/

She never smoked. I heard her swear once and it was only the word, shit. At the age of sixty-two, she had a sudden Anneurysm.

https://www.webmd.com/brain/brain-aneurysm#1

None of us could help her. She passed away.

I also took care of my dad who had Multiple Myeloma and Leukemia with a little bit of Parkinson’s mixed in.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/multiple-myeloma/symptoms-causes/syc-20353378

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/leukemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20374373

His illness lasted about one year and then he passed. I did all I could, but God wanted him worse.

Then there was my brother. A mentally challenged man who had one heart attack and then Multiple System Atrophy hit him big.

Multiple system atrophy (MSA), also known as Shy–Drager syndrome, is a rare neurodegenerative disorder characterized by tremors, slow movement, muscle rigidity, and postural instability (collectively known as parkinsonism) due to dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, and ataxia.

(It is kind of creepy and a little scary for me to read back that definition of MSA. I too, have a neurological disease. My doctor can’t decide if I have my brother’s illness or not. He says in time he will be able to tell. My diagnosis is; Parkinsonism/Dystonia/Ataxia. You can probably understand my fear.)

When my brother had this terrible illness and on top of all the other stuff he had went through, I decided to incubate any time we had left, which ended up being seven years, the general amount of life time on this particular illness.

I paid close attention, more than my dad I think, to every feeling, need and want he wanted. I spoiled him rotten. I made sure he had the best doctors we could find and afford. I fed him healthy foods. I told him many times how important he was to me and how much I loved having him for a brother.

I was drained and tired and physically in not the best shape when he passed; but I wouldn’t trade a moment. I have beautiful memories of his and my time together. I shed tears still, but not as often. He will be gone from my vision four years, March 24th, 2018. I feel like I incubated and watched over his days and nights until he was ready to be born into God’s hands.

March is Awareness month, and I am still  praying for a cure. Purple is the color that represents Multiple System Atrophy. The guy on the scooter with the big smile? My brother. The banner at the bottom is where you can call if you are in crisis.

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