the moon, the moon sees me; God bless the moon, God bless me.”
as I look out the east window of the computer room, this little childhood
rhyme comes to mind. As I sit here putting my thoughts in the computer,
I turn often, look at the full moon and think happy thoughts.
teenagers, we young people would drive out to Walker’s Lake, sit by the
water’s edge and watch the moon come up over the trees that surrounded the
lake. Or, maybe we would arrive at the lake after the full moon was high
overhead. There would be sounds of hoot owls, unidentified small animals
scampering in the nearby woods or a dog barking in the distance.
peaceful, quiet. We felt we were far away from home, parents and other
friends. We could share dreams and expectations of life to come.
Laughter would ring out, echoing through the forest. There were times
that tears were shed as one of the lovers would give the sad news to the
other partner that their time as a couple had come to an end. The drive
back to town would seem much longer than the ride out to the lake. The
moonlight was no longer a thing of beauty. Oh, but there were times when
great joy occurred there. A young man would hold his sweetheart close to
him and with only the moonlight to illuminate the car in which they sat,
he would ask her to share the rest of his life as his wife.
On these occasions
the drive back to town would be a happy excursion, ending much too soon.
The bright full moon would seem to be smiling. Because the entrance to
the lake is now blocked, no longer can young people seek solace there.
moon would at times come through an open window of one’s bedroom. It was
at times like that, a gentle hand would reach across the pillow to stroke
the smooth, sweet smelling hair of the loved one. Ever so quietly the
partner who was awake could ease from the bed, being careful not to
disturb the sleep of the other. Tiptoeing from the room, making not a
sound while opening the door leading to the porch, one could then sit in
the old high-back cane-bottom rocker and think. Because there was no
light except that provided by the beautiful moon in the sky, it was
acceptable to sit outside in one’s nightclothes. On summer nights, a
mosquito might buzz around, trying to annoy the person who had no desire
to even swat the pesky insect. In the winter, there was usually a cotton
throw tossed in a chair by the hallway door, ready to be picked up as one
left the warmth of the house. The cool, crisp night air was made more
enjoyable by the bright moonlight casting an almost daylight aura on the
porch and the adjacent yard.
child is whimpering in his sleep. The young mother lifts him from his bed
that is bathed in moonlight streaming into the bedroom. She takes the
child in her arms, quietly making her way across the room to the rocker.
That favorite chair is placed near the south window which allows the
moonlight to enter. The mother eases into the chair, begins to sing
softly to the restless child. Soon the child is quiet, sound asleep on
the mother’s shoulder. Once again the light from a full moon has worked
woman awakens from a deep sleep. She intuitively reaches across the
pillow stroke the thick mass of hair of her sleeping mate, as she has done
so many nights. When her hand finds no head resting on the pillow, she
opens her eyes and sees a ray of moonlight shining on the empty space
where her lover should have been. Fully awake now, she remembers the
dreadful night years ago when she said an earthly goodbye to the one she
loved. There had been a full moon, giving off a silver glow to the earth
as if somehow seeking to replace with beauty the sadness she was
feeling. On this night, as had become her custom on nights such as this,
the woman took her keys, walked to her car, got in and drove to the
cemetery where her loved one was buried. Upon arriving at the cemetery
gate, there was no need for an artificial light because once again the
full moon was there to illuminate the path for her. She made her way the
short distance to the grave, sat on the dew-covered grass and wept. Even
the beautiful moonlight could not prevent the tears from flowing down her
cheeks. Memories of other moonlit nights began crowding into her mind.
With these happy memories filling the innermost parts of her heart and
mind, she was able to replace the tears with a smile. After an hour
beside the well-kept grave, she arose and returned to her home. As she
was entering the front door, she noticed that the moonlight was waning and
would soon give way to the dawn of another day.
My Life - Strengthened by Faith
of Wednesday, 12 July 1995 dawned like so many summer days in Texas….hot.
We had been experiencing triple digit temperatures for several days. This
one would be no different weather-wise. However, before the sun went down
that day my entire life would be forever changed.
As was his custom my husband arose around 5:00 a.m. He dressed quietly
so as not to disturb me for I would not be waking up for another two
hours. He joined some friends at their usual coffee drinking place,
talked a while before leaving for a small town some forty miles away. The
tractor dealership there had ordered a part he needed for some of our
equipment. Before leaving the house, he had written me a note, reminding
me that he was going there early that morning. As it turned out his trip
was in vain; the part had not arrived in the daily shipment. He returned
home without the much needed part. This was a part of GOD’s plan. Had
the part arrived our equipment would have been repaired and Jack would
have been working alone that day. A friend of ours, who like us, owned a
commercial hay baling business. He was called to see if we might borrow
his piece of equipment for the day until we could repair ours. As was the
custom between these two men, the friend gladly offered the use of the
Before going to the friend’s home to pick up the piece of equipment, Jack,
my beloved husband, stopped at my office to say good morning and to tell
me of his plans for the day. He would return home to do some routine
chores around the barn before leaving for the hay field. By now it was
approximately 11:00 a.m. and I was busy at my desk. Busy doing what, you
ask. I cannot remember but at the time I thought it was so important I
did not take the time to rise from the desk, walk the few steps to where
he was standing and kiss him goodbye. Little did I know I would always
regret that omission. He said something like, “see you tonight”, waved
goodbye and was out of there in his usual manner of walking fast, as
though he were on his way to a fire. I returned to my work.
Around 1:00 p.m. a call came in to our office. As was her custom,
Natalie my co-worker for many years, answered the phone, and then said,
“Mrs. Hardee, this call is for you.” I do not know who called, but a
lady said that I needed to come quick; that Jack had passed out. I
grabbed my car keys and literally ran to my car. This was the call I had
been dreading for years….you see Jack had suffered a heart attack some
seventeen years prior to this and death from heart failure was common in
the time of day, I thought he would have been in the hay field by that
time. I drove quickly to Rogers Road to make my way to the field.
However, as I turned onto Rogers Road, I noticed some county workers there
and something just told me to stop and ask if they had noticed Jack go by
in the last hour or so. They all shook their heads and one said they had
seen him the day before but not that day. I hurriedly made my way to our
home, thinking maybe he was there. He wasn’t. I returned to the office
and somehow found that he was at the Bill Jones home on Kingston Road over
in an adjoining county.
By now some ten minutes had gone by since I had gotten the telephone call
to come. Once again I ran to the car and headed to where I thought my
husband was. Driving a little faster than I normally did, I was on the
overpass crossing the freeway when I received a message from the LORD.
Oh, HE did not speak audibly, but I felt HIS presence and it told me to
slow down before I injured someone or myself. There was no need to
rush….there was nothing that I could do now to help Jack. I was crying so
badly I could hardly see the road, but thank goodness it was one on which
we traveled a lot, so I was familiar with it.
When I pulled into the Jones’s driveway, I could see the first responder
vehicle from our volunteer fire department parked near Jack’s truck. I
parked my car, jumped out and started running toward Jack’s truck. There
on the ground, under the broiling sun, lay my beloved, still and quiet as
death. The young firefighter who had been kneeling beside the body,
trying to revive him, saw me and came running to meet me. Charles, who
had grown up with my children, came to me and said that I shouldn’t go
down there (to where the body lay). Charles knew Jack was dead and was
trying to shield me from that, but I pushed past him, telling him that my
place was beside my husband. He had tears in his eyes as he told me he
had done everything he could for Mr. Hardee. I knew he had.
According to Mr. Jones, Jack had loaded the piece of equipment on the
trailer behind his truck, drove through the gate, got out of the truck and
closed said gate. As he was walking back to the driver’s door, he and Mr.
Jones called back and forth about how hot it was with Jack urging Mr.
Jones to get back inside the house out of the heat. Mr. Jones assured him
he would do so. He told me he watched as Jack opened the driver’s door,
which was on the opposite side of the truck from where Mr. Jones was
standing. When Jack disappeared out of his sight, he thought maybe Jack
had dropped something and bent down to retrieve it. After a few minutes
when Jack did not re-appear, Mr. Jones walked out to the driveway to
check. It was then he saw Jack’s lifeless body laying on the sandy
driveway, with the broiling sun pouring down on him. The emergency call
was made for help, but by that time there was nothing anyone could do.
The massive heart attack had taken him in a matter of seconds. My
beloved’s spirit had taken flight from his earthly body to find eternal
rest where no one is concerned about hot weather, the lack of rain, or any
of the other things we mortals find so important to us.
service ambulance from our home county was dispatched, with two of the
kindest young men on board. They worked with the body a few minutes, but
they along with me, knew there was nothing they could do. I was standing
behind one the paramedics who was administering CPR and using the paddles
to try to stimulate a pulse. I placed my hand on his shoulder, and asked
that he stop….I understood there was no more we could do to bring Jack
back. With the most pained expression I have seen in a long time, the
young man admitted there was nothing they could do. My husband was
Almost as soon as I had arrived at the scene of his death, Jack’s family
and friends began to gather. We were to begin a long, hot vigil there
with his body as we waited for the justice of peace to arrive. In October
1995 I wrote a short story, “The Long Wait”, in which I described a
portion of that fateful afternoon. I would like to share a portion of
that with you now.
“Heather and David, along with their spouses, came soon after the medics
had told me there was nothing they could do for my husband. We were told
a justice of the peace had been called and would arrive shortly to conduct
an inquest. Note: This is normal procedure in our state in the case
of an unattended death. Then my beloved’s lifeless body could be
removed from the sandy driveway where he had fallen following the massive
“The July sun beat down on us in its merciless intensity. We gathered
together to share our grief and seek strength from each other. Friends
and loved ones came when they heard about the tragedy that had struck our
family. We had yet to hear from Don. He was in a nearby large city,
picking up a load of steel, and would have to drive home not knowing his
daddy was gone.
“We kept asking what was keeping the justice of the peace; how much longer
would we have to wait. The answer was always the same, ‘He’s on his
way.’ The Jones family was most gracious to us, offering to let us go
inside the house to find relief from the heat. We declined their offer
because we felt our place was there at the side of our loved one. Cold
water and towels were brought to us to temper the intense heat.
“We joined in a short audible prayer for Don’s safety as he traveled,
asking GOD’s blessing on him has traveled that busy highway, and on us as
we waited and tried to deal with this sudden loss.
“Finally, the justice of the peace arrived. He conducted the necessary
procedure to satisfy our state, making his determination that death was
caused by a massive heart attack. Note: The JP was a personal friend
of ours and was aware of the first heart attack and the family history of
heart problems. The young men from the funeral home very gently, and
in a most professional manner, prepared to remove Jack’s body from the
scene. Still, no Don. My heart was breaking for him, because I knew he
would want to see his daddy once more.
“Then, just as the hearse was backing down the driveway, someone called
out, ‘Don’s here.’ The long wait was over. A silent thank you to GOD was
offered by me. As Don ran the short distance from his truck to the place
where the small crowd of family and friends were gathered, there was a
look on his face that will haunt me forever. It showed a hurt that was
too deep for words to describe. His daddy, whom he loved so dearly, had
left without a final goodbye to this firstborn son. The funeral directors
stopped the vehicle, opened the door and allowed Don to have a few minutes
with his daddy before they took him away.
“As I look back, I understand why there was a delay in the arrival of the
justice of the peace. Had he arrived as quickly as had been anticipated,
there would not have been time for Don to have returned from the city and
driven to the Jones place to say farewell to his daddy.
“I will always be grateful for the long wait in the hot summer sun that we
endured that Wednesday afternoon. There was a reason for it. Let us not
be quick to question the happenings in our lives.”
The family, along with a multitude of friends gathered at my home. I sat
on the couch and received our guests. One after the other knelt in front
of me, hugged me, cried with me, offered words of comfort, or simply held
my hands, unable to speak. There were the men and women my age, friends
from years past; there were new friends who had only known him a short
while. And, then there were all the young people whom he loved and who
loved him in return, tears streaming down their cheeks, weeping
unashamedly for the man who meant so much to them. Audible prayers were
said, but mostly it was just the feeling of Christ-like love that filled
the room that helped me through those first few hours.
Late, late that night when the last person had left the house, except for
my daughter Heather who would remain with me, I began to realize just what
had really taken place. Because I am a mortal human being, my first
prayer that night began with, “Father, why did you take him from me?’
But, then as I sat quietly, with my arms around our daughter, I felt the
peace of HIS presence, HIS reassurance that HE knew what was best for Jack
and for me. Oh, I didn’t want to accept it at first….in my head I knew
that HIS plan was the only way, but in my heart I was not ready to accept
The next few days were so full of activity….plans for the funeral….calls
to be made to so many people….visits with dozens of our friends….all
things that must be done. I remember going to our family cemetery with
the children to select the exact spot where we would place his earthly
remains. Numerous burial plots were available near my parents and his
parents. I chose the one at the foot of my daddy’s grave and at the head
of Jack’s daddy’s grave. That way our families would forever be joined
there, Jack and I would be the conjunction between the Hardees and the
My children and I made the trip to the funeral home to meet with Pat, a
personal friend who was manager of the funeral home. Pat guided us ever
so gently through the process of making the final arrangements for Jack’s
funeral. More decisions. How much money did we want to spend? Why
type of casket? Did we want the American flag draped on it? What about
the family spray of flowers? What clothes would he wear for his final
farewell to his friends? With the support of my children, the kindness
of Pat, and the LORD’s presence, I made it through those tough questions.
We chose a simple oak casket and requested the flag be placed on it. The
family spray of flowers would be placed on a stand at the head of the
casket. Because he was never one to dress up, it was decided that his
newest pair of jeans and a dress shirt would be the clothing we would need
to furnish. The shirt was the one he wore to David’s wedding just a
couple years before. His wedding ring would be on his hand until the
final viewing when it would be removed and given to me. As a matter of
note: I have worn that ring continuously since 15 July 1995; first on a
chain and then on my finger after I had the ring sized to fit me.
On Thursday and Friday nights of that week, dozens of people visited us at
the funeral home. Some were people who had known Jack since he was a
young boy; others were people who had just recently met him. But all had
come to show their respect for that little man with the big heart. A few
were men, who as teenagers, Jack had arrested or threatened to arrest for
some infraction of the law. They now recognized that he was only doing
his job and in the long haul, helping them with their lives. Older men
and women who had taught him; younger ones whom he had given a helping
hand when they needed it; those with whom he had played baseball and
football; present and former law enforcement officers. The list could go
on and on….there were so very many of his friends and those of our
children who came to mourn his sudden passing and to give support to those
of us that he left behind. And throughout those tough days, I continually
called on my LORD to give me strength to meet the demands that each day
brought. And each day HE supplied my every need.
Saturday morning dawned as all the other days that week – clear skies and
hot. I was the first to arise at my home which I had shared with Leigh
and Keith the night before. I made my way to the barn where the equipment
and trucks were parked. There was the familiar red work truck, parked in
its usual spot in the first bay. I’m not sure how long I had been sitting
in the truck when Keith came into the barn. He wanted to know what I was
doing and if I were alright. Typical son. Oh, Keith is not our
biological child, but we had claimed him for years. My children refer to
him as “brother Keith” and we love him as such. (The red work truck still
sits in the barn; no longer used, but there as a reminder of the past.)
That morning I was sitting there thinking about my beloved, smelling the
familiar odor of him and that truck, holding his leather work gloves,
knowing he would have no need of them ever again. Just being like a
child, seeking the comfort of a secure place that doesn’t change. But,
change had indeed come into our lives that week.
Soon that morning more folks began arriving with even more food. The
friends and neighbors made sure no one in our household would have to cook
from that fateful Wednesday afternoon until many days afterward. People
were so kind to us, so thoughtful. Lots of out of town relatives arrived
in time for us to make our way to our church, some six miles out in the
country. Keith insisted that I and some others ride with him and Leigh in
their van. This is the part of the story that blurs because as I left the
house I knew when I returned I would have viewed my husband’s body for the
last time on this earth. There is a faint memory of our passing the
family cemetery on the way to the church and seeing the open grave, the
canvas tent, the folding chairs, everything ready for the final service.
When we arrived at the church there was such a huge crowd gathered there.
Many were those who were with me in the driveway that hot afternoon, who
had been with me at my home and at the funeral home. Then there were the
other many, many friends and family members who were there to pay their
final respects. The church was already filled, the fellowship hall was
packed and there were lots of folks standing out in the hot summer sun. I
only wished Jack could have been there in person to greet all these people
one last time.
Our family was seated at the front of the church on the right hand side;
we never sit on the right side, but then we had never said goodbye to a
loved one from this church either. The ministers who spoke included the
pastor of our home church at the time, who gave the obituary, read some
scripture and offered up a prayer. The message was brought by our dear
friend and former pastor, Bro. Bob Crowson. Jack’s cousin, who is a
minister, read a poem prepared by David’s stepdaughter, Susan. There was
music and there were hundreds of flowers. I had written a tribute to
Jack that I wanted to read, but grief overtook me and I decided to ask a
friend to read it. These were my thoughts on 13 July 1995, twenty-four
hours following his death.
“In Memory of Jack, my Beloved, written by Sharon July 13, 1995
1955. She was young; he told her she was beautiful. She thought of him
as handsome. They fell in love. It was a love that lasted 40 years.
20, 1958 he took her as his wife in a simple ceremony performed by her
pastor. His daddy was their witness.
“He cared for
her, provided for her and most of all he loved her. She bore his
three children, Don, David and Heather. He loved them with all his heart
and they returned his love.
placed his name upon a church membership roll, but he knew and loved the
Lord. He always expected her and the children to be in regular attendance
at the Lord’s house.
July 12, 1995, our loving Lord looked down from above and saw how hot the
weather was and how tired Jack’s body really was. God, in His infinite
wisdom, called the old cowboy/rancher home for a rest.
“He will be
missed by those loved ones, but they are grateful that God gave him 63
years of happy, productive living. If there are hay fields in heaven, we
know who the head hay baler will be.
love, until I join you across the river.
“All my love,
Because there were so many at the funeral who were unable to hear the
service, we had that writing published in the local newspaper with a
notation expressing our thanks and appreciation to all who brought comfort
during the grief we were feeling following the sudden death of our
husband, father, grandfather and brother.
Music during the service included “Surely Goodness and Mercy”, or “Through
it All”, or “If that isn’t Love”. All three were listed on the program
for the service and sad to say I can’t remember which ones they sang. I’m
sure it wasn’t all three of them. Following the reading of my tribute to
Jack, his cousin led in the closing prayer.
After the service
was concluded and the hundreds of mourners had filed past the open casket,
the immediate family gathered around to say a final goodbye. Some of us
placed something special in the casket with him. One left a note, one
left special photos, others coins or dollar bills. There was a special
meaning behind each item that was left. Each of us had decided what to
leave prior to the service, but had said nothing to the others. (Later at
the cemetery, our then daughter-in-law who knew of his love of cigarettes,
placed a fresh, unlit one on top of the casket before it was lowered.
Out of respect, she would not take her farewell gift into the church.)
I can remember that
someone, maybe Pat or Keith took me by the arm and said it’s time to go.
Oh, that was the longest walk I ever took…from the casket to the waiting
van outside. I never looked back. I think my children were still inside
the church when I came out. This is one of those things I somehow cannot
remember. I can remember getting into the van and our following the
hearse back to the cemetery. Because there were so many cars crowded on
the road leading to the church, the hearse was driven away from the church
in a direction we normally do not travel. Later we joked and said that
Pat was giving Jack his money’s worth….a long ride to the cemetery.
By the time we arrived at the family cemetery, it was well after noon time
and the brutal July sun was beaming down. Again, I remember very little
about the service at the grave side. Lots of well wishers were waiting to
greet me and the children, but it was so very hot. At the conclusion of
the service, it was decided I should move to the van where I could at
least get a little cool air. As I was walking from the grave site, I
passed by my daddy’s and my mother’s graves. I had a fleeting thought of
how daddy must have felt each time he had to say goodbye to a spouse; he
buried two wives. I was not really aware of the heat; there was a numbness
about me. I felt nothing except emptiness. In my head I knew he was
gone, but in my heart I could not let go. There was no way I could fathom
what life without my loved one would be like. I can remember saying a
silent prayer for strength to just make it through the time at the
cemetery and let me get home to the security of an abode we had shared for
so many years.
We left the cemetery and traveled back to the church where lunch had been
prepared for us. Again, my memory fades here. The next memory I have is
of our being in the yard at our home with lots of family members and
friends present. There were so many potted plants sitting under the
shade trees as well as numerous ones inside the house. Knowing I could
never care for that many plants, and wanting to show some gratitude for
the many hours my friends had put in making my life a little easier the
past few days, I shared some of those plants with them. There still were
plants everywhere. I tried very hard to keep them all alive. As of this
writing some ten years later, I still have three of them. Quite an
accomplishment for someone with a brown thumb such as I have.
Late in the afternoon my family and I drove back to the cemetery, which is
the custom around here. You go back for one last look at the flowers
before either the heat or the cold destroys them. You go back for one
final goodbye to that cold, lifeless body that now lies forever out of
your sight, buried in the earth from which we came and to which we will
return. As everyone knows, I take photographs of everything, so we took
my camera along. All the immediate family except our grandson, Bryon, and
Bob my son-in-law were there. We stood in a group, each mourning in his
own way, and had our picture taken. There we were. My biological and
foster children and grandchildren. Don, David, Heather, Lucy, Brandy,
Ann, Susan, Patsy, Keith, Leigh, Stephen, Justin. and me. Thirteen in
all. Thirteen, you say. Isn’t that an unlucky number? Not in our
family. January 13th was the birthday of Jack and Heather.
In one photo we are all sort of smiling, except for Heather. When I look
at the photo now, it breaks my heart to see how much that child was
Later that evening Keith and Leigh left for their home. The other
children began to make their way to their respective homes. The first
couple of nights following the funeral and burial there was someone with
me. My precious granddaughter, Lucy, remained with me. In fact she
stayed several days and nights with me.
The quiet evening hours were the hardest to bear. Those were the times I
really cried out to the LORD. Please help me, I would say to HIM. And
HE would give me peace and strength to go on. I continued to do the
daily tasks that were expected of me, but each day I would drive to the
cemetery, kneel beside the freshly dug grave, cry for a while and pray for
an even longer time. For two years, with the exception of days when I
would be out of town attending classes thru a state university, every day
I would drive to the cemetery. I missed Jack so very much. I knew my
strength and any power I might have would come from the LORD. And HE did
not fail me.
The day after Jack’s death I began to realize just how drastically my life
was about to change. One of the first things that came to mind was, “How
will I make it through the storms?” I turned to my heavenly Father and
begged for HIS loving hand to be placed on me when the storms came.
“Please, Father, take away my fear of lightning and thunder,” fervently I
prayed. “I cannot live alone with this great fear.” Peace came over me
as I felt the Father’s granting of my request. Less than a week later I
would face the first storm.
heard the thunder begin to move in from the northwest as a weather front
moved into the area. There were seven other people in the room with me,
but not the one human to whom I had always turned. No fear came to me
that night. The storm moved through and the following morning there was
sunshine. However, just after dark that afternoon more unsettled weather
was looming on the horizon. This night I would not have seven adults in
the room with me; my eight-year-old granddaughter was the only earthling
there to comfort me. As the lightning lit up the night sky and the
thunder caused the window panes to rattle, I felt the presence of the
Comforter. This proved to me that the fear I had lived with for so many
years had indeed been removed from my life forever.
There had been other storms in my life, but I had managed to weather
them. The deaths of my parents when I was young. Then the loss of my
husband. These were preparations for facing life as an adult, without
those that were the closest to me. My Faith was tested each time, but
each time my Faith carried me through. Just as I overcame my fear of the
thunder and lightning, I have overcome heartache and disappointments. My
Faith was basically a happy one. My family and my long involvement in my
job before I retired brought contentment to me. My children and now my
grandchildren have been the “light of my life” as the saying goes. I know
that all I am and all that I have are a direct blessing from HIM. Only
because our LORD has chosen me as one of HIS children can I be so happy
with my lot in life.
Life moved along at the usual pace for a small town. I went to work five
days a week. Attended worship services at my little country church on
Sunday. Things were going well, then on a Saturday in late December 1998
tragedy struck our family. My grandson, who was almost sixteen years
old, was deer hunting on family property. He spotted a coyote near the
fence line between our place and the adjoining property. He fired off two
shots at the coyote. Unknown to him, one of his cousins was walking near
the fence line and was hit in the arm by one of the bullets. It was not
until sometime later that evening that we became aware of the accident.
This nearly devastated my grandson and his dad. Don brought Bryon to my
home where we sat together. Bryon withdrew into himself and would not
talk. This was frightening to me. I knew he needed to talk about his
feelings, but I did not push him. I went into my bedroom and talked to
the LORD about it for a while, asking HIS guidance as to what I should say
to this child who was so hurt.
deputy sheriff came to interview Bryon about the incident and was not
blessed with tactfulness. Sensitivity was not a strong point of the
deputy. He had talked with the victim at the hospital who stated he knew
it was just an accident and had no desire for any charges to be filed
against Bryon. It was a very trying time for our family, but once again
the LORD stepped in and gave us the strength to overcome. After many
weeks in the hospital the man was released. It took Bryon a while to get
over this horrible accident, but thru GOD’s grace he made it.
My life moved along at an ordinary pace for several years. I continued to
draw strength daily from my LORD. Regular church attendance was a given
fact in my life. Not only did the messages from my pastor give me
guidance, but the fellowship with other believers uplifted me. We prayed
for each other each time we met. During the week if there was a crisis or
just a minor problem we called on each other to intercede on the other’s
behalf. It was these strong prayer warriors that helped me keep going.
In 2001 my health began to slide. I thought the tiredness and lethargy
was just a part of growing old. After all I would soon reach retirement
age. I began to notice I would forget things…couldn’t concentrate as I
once could. I kept praying, “Please don’t let me have Alzheimer’s
disease”. Finally I sought medical help. I was diagnosed as being
extremely anemic. After lots of iron tablets and iron rich foods, the
tests showed there had been no improvement. It was then I really became
alarmed, but still keeping the Faith that HE would take me through.
My family physician had referred to me to the finest surgeon in our
county. He ordered more tests, changed my medications and began to search
for the reason I was not improving. I saw two other doctors during that
year, neither of which could find what my problem was. Except for one,
all my doctors are Christians and I had faith in them. During all this
time I prayed every day that the LORD would show us what was wrong with me
and what needed to be done.
On May 5, 2003, I was scheduled for a colonoscopy at the local hospital.
Since I had had two of these procedures before, I knew it would not be
pleasant, but a necessary thing. At 5:30 a.m. my son Don had me at the
surgery department, ready for the day. Since I was sedated before the
procedure began, I remember very little of what went on.
My next recollection is of being in a room with my children and the
surgeon there with me. He was telling us that finally the growth in my
colon had been found. It would be necessary for me to have surgery. I
asked could he just take me back down to the surgery suite and get it over
with. That was not an option, but he would admit me to the hospital and
early the next morning he would operate. To me that was good news….I did
not want to postpone it.
The next morning I was taken down to the surgery suite. My children and
my pastor were there with me. We had a prayer before I was wheeled
away. I must admit I was a little anxious because I have been such a
healthy person. I had not had any type surgery since my last child was
born. But, I finally relaxed and said a silent prayer as I began to lose
consciousness from the anesthesia. The next thing I knew I was in
Before I went
into surgery, one of the nurses assigned to me had explained that,
depending on the extent of the surgery, I might have to be fitted with a
“bag”. When I was back in my room and fully awake, I felt this huge
thing on my body. It stretched from just below my breasts to far below
my waist. I asked my nurse if I had been fitted with a “bag”. She
laughed and said, “Oh, no, that is your bandage.” Relief flooded over
me. A very special prayer went forth upon hearing those welcome words.
surgeon had shared the news with my children immediately following the
surgery, it was several days before he felt I was strong enough to receive
the news. A section of my colon along with ten lymph nodes had been
removed. The cancer in the colon was stage three. Most of you know that
stage four is the worst there is. Five of the ten lymph nodes contained
cancer cells. For this reason, the surgeon recommended I begin
chemotherapy as soon as I was strong enough. Now, this was the time that
my Faith really was tested. Cancer. The dreaded word no one wants to
hear. But, I knew that only the LORD would determine my future. I would
lie in my hospital bed and pray. Over and over I would plead with HIM to
allow me to live….allow me to be here a little longer to help my
children….allow me to serve HIM better.
finally came when I was dismissed from the hospital and came home. Oh,
how wonderful it was to walk into this little haven. I felt so secure
here. As usual my children were here to minister to me and see to my
every need. Again, I went to the LORD in thanksgiving for these wonderful
children. Lots of friends came, bringing food, flowers and cards. Some
came to just visit. I needed all that to help reinforce my courage to
face the uncertain future.
My pastor and
his wonderful wife brought enough food to feed a small army, as did so
many others. My heart was so blessed with all this outpouring of love. I
knew HE was working in my life.
weeks following the surgery, I made my first trip to a clinic in a nearby
town for a visit with an oncologist. I could not even spell his title at
the time of that first visit because this was the first time I or anyone
in my immediate family had been cursed with the “big C”, what we cancer
patients sometimes call our illness.
reviewing my records, he determined I would need thirty treatments of
chemotherapy. It would take six months. Six months, I couldn’t believe
my ears. That is half a year! But by the end of June 2003 I had begun
the treatments that would kill any cancer cells left behind in my body.
Of course, it would also kill other good cells in my body. That’s the
chance we take. Five days a week my daughter would drive me to the
clinic. On several occasions each of my sons would drive me for the
treatment. Although they had full time jobs, their thinking was, “You’re
my mom, too, and I want to help.”
treatment went great. I hardly knew it had been administered to me. I
can remember going to the office where I once worked and the public
library for a short visit. When asked how the treatment went, I was able
to say that it was nothing to it. By the end of that first week, I would
have to eat those words….as the treatments progressed I became weaker and
had more ill effects. But, I knew if I were to whip this disease that had
invaded my body I would have to undergo those treatments.
of treatment week I would feel good because my body would have had two
weeks to recuperate from the previous treatments. But as the week wore on
the weakness and nausea would return. By Friday I would be feeling so bad
it was all I could do to make myself dress to make the trip. These were
the times I really reached out to the LORD for strength. I prayed
earnestly for HIM to help me. But because I did not want to worry my
children or friends I tried so very hard to pretend all was well. I don’t
think I fooled anyone, but they never let on that they knew how sick I
was. My treatments were not nearly as strong as those administered to
many of the other patients who were at the clinic at the same time I was
there. For those very sick people, I tried to put on a happy face when I
was waiting and during the time the nurse was administering my treatment.
Because mine was so mild, I suppose, I could be in and out of the
treatment room in about ten minutes. Other patients were laying back in
recliners with an IV attached to their arms, some for as long as five to
2003 near the end of my treatments, I wrote an article entitled “The Room”
which described the room at the clinic where I and other cancer patients
received our chemo treatments. Some of the following thoughts were taken
from that article.
“In May of
this year I was referred to this clinic and a doctor who would be my
oncologist. Following my office visit with him, I was introduced to a
Registered Nurse, whom I shall call Linda. This lady was such a jewel.
She probably sensed my apprehension about the prospect of having
treatments. She took Heather and me into this “room” and explained that
here would be where I would receive my treatments. Most of what she said
that day escaped me, but Heather was there taking notes.
“The room was
filled with patients hooked up to I.V.s. There were about six comfortable
recliners where the patients sat while receiving their chemo treatments.
Linda sat beside me, explaining in detail what would take place when I
began the treatments the next week. Earlier in the year, (before I had
been diagnosed with cancer), I had talked to a teacher at our high school
who had just completed a long series of treatments. She was one of those
patients who must undergo really aggressive treatments, eight hours a day,
five days a week for several months. Thus, I thought that would be my
fate. I was so relieved when the oncologist told me that my six-month
period of treatments would involve a light treatment five days a week;
then off three weeks. Linda explained that the treatments would take
about fifteen minutes. I felt so blessed, relieved, almost happy.
two rounds of treatment were taken in the “old” room. Then we patients
and the nurses who ministered to us were moved to a new, more spacious
treatment room. Lots of windows brought in the bright sunshine and the
welcome sight of rain during the hot dry summer months. It was not a
picnic by any means, but the surroundings seemed to lift the spirit of
some of the patients.
“When I began
my trips to “the room”, I realized I was so much healthier than most of
the other patients. Upon telling a friend that I felt guilty for being
about to waltz in, take my treatment in about ten minutes and be out of
there, he told me not to feel guilty, but to feel blessed. I did feel
blessed and I thank my GOD that he saw me through that phase of my life.
I was so grateful to the doctor and his staff, especially the nurses in
“the room”. When I told my primary doctor about the guilty/blessed
feelings, he said that I had been sent there as an encouragement to
others, both the patients and the nurses, but especially the nurses who
saw so many really sick people day in and day out.
as I neared the end of my treatments, I continued to ask GOD to help me be
an instrument of HIS love and concern for all HIS children. It was with
thanksgiving that I thought of “the room” as a part of my life that soon
was behind me. To my caring Heavenly Father I said thank you for such
My life began
to return to something close to normal Once you have experienced cancer,
you look at life a little differently, always thankful for another day to
serve HIM. You spend a little more time in prayer, so it was with great
interest that I found something called “The Five Fingers of Prayer” on the
Internet one night while surfing the ‘net. What follows is a general
synopsis of it, with some comments of my own thrown in. I used this for
a devotional at my church in December 2003. Begin your daily prayers
using your fingers as a guide for whom you should pray.
Your thumb is
nearest to you. So begin your prayers by praying for those closest to
you. They are the easiest to remember. It is for my children that I
begin my prayers. To pray for our loved ones is, as C. S. Lewis once
said, a “sweet duty”.
finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach, instruct and
heal. This includes teachers, doctors and ministers. They need support
and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. As I spoke that
Sunday morning, I added nurses to this category. Just two days prior I
had attended graduation ceremonies for the 2003 class that had completed
their studies at a vocational school for nurses in a nearby town. One of
the speakers reminded us that the nurses are the most important people you
will be in contact with if you are hospitalized. Not the dietician, the
maintenance people, the volunteers or even the doctors, but your nurses.
finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders. Pray for the
President, leaders in business and industry and administrators. These
people shape our nation and guide public opinion. They need GOD’s
guidance. I added our local leaders on the county, city and school
district level. Especially, our city officials who serve with no
compensation, only the sense of having given back to the community.
finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact that this is
our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It should remind
us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain. They need our
prayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.
comes our little finger, the smallest finger of them all, which is where
we should place ourselves in relation to GOD and others. Your pinkies
should remind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for
the other four groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective
and you will be able to pray for yourself more effectively. The biggest
part of this prayer should be thanksgiving for all HIS past, present and
When I began
putting my thoughts on paper about the things that have transpired in my
life during the past ten years, it was to be a written history for my
family. Later I was encouraged by a newly found friend to share with
others how my Faith has brought me through some very tough times. So now,
in addition to being prepared for my family, this true story has been
written with the desire it might help someone who has or is experiencing a
traumatic period in life. When I went through the dark valleys in my
life, I knew the LORD was with me every step of the way. Oh, that is not
to say I did not grieve over the deaths of my parents and my husband or
become upset when I dealt with cancer. But, I knew I could go on because
I have been blest with a wonderful family that stands with me in
everything I do. But, more than that, I knew the LORD was there anytime I
turned to HIM for help. HE has never failed me.
“I see the
moon, the moon sees me; God bless the moon, God bless me.”