Saturday, June 13, 2009

Healing tears

It has been a LONG week! Last sun. night I received the news that my father had suffered a stroke and was not doing well. Things like this never hit a a good time, but this week seemed to be the worst! It was the last week of school (with all the hecticness that comes along with that), Bryce graduated from his "talking school," Kristen got her cast off...

I felt the real sense of urgency that I needed to see my father. I have no real relationship with this man. The last time I saw him was four years ago. We talk maybe once a year and I send him cards at Father's Day and Christmas. But at the end of the day, no matter what he has done with his life, he is still my dad and I love him.

I have known my dad was failing in health for a while now. He has had several other mini strokes over the last couple of years. Paul and I have planned financially for just this sort of thing. So we searched for the best flights that we could get and tried to flip our schedules around to go to Illinois for a couple of days.

Both my aunt and my sister had told me dad looked bad. In addition to the stroke, he had also had surgery the week before to remove some cancer in his mouth. They had to remove part of his tongue and the lymph nodes in his neck. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I entered Dad's room Tues. morning. He barely looked like the dad I remember. I will spare the details of the physical issues, but the next biggest thing that shocked me was the lack of life in him. I remember dad's hair always being very shiny and his eyes clear. The man that lay before me was dull, and at first glance I thought dad had cataracts because his eyes seemed very cloudy.

We stayed with Dad for several hours that day. I had brought along pictures of the kids and my wedding album. He said he really didn't feel like looking at pictures. I think he may have felt bad about that because a few minutes later he told me how he has all the pictures that I send him on the wall in his living room.

I am a nurse aide by profession. I deal with stroke victims every day. We are trained to be compassionate as the person you are caring for is some one's dad, mom, sister, brother, etc. But this is different. Now it's my dad. I assisted the nurse in boosting my dad up in bed since he could not do it himself. I propped up his back with a pillow. I swabbed his mouth with water because he was so dry from not being able to take any food in through the mouth. I sat watching the neurologist testing dad's arm strength and asking him to try to lift his leg. I knew what he was testing for. I know what road lies ahead for my dad. I also know that it takes a lot of mind power to rehab yourself after a stroke. "You gotta have the want to." We don't see that in dad. He does not seem to care. But he really wants to go home! So, maybe... for now, he has been transferred to a rehab facility. We got one little laugh out of him as we were all saying goodbye. My aunt really has quite a sense of humor and she said to him, "Now, try to stay on THIS side of the grass, would ya?"!! He chuckled and said "yea, I ain't ready for that."

Paul and I visited with my mom, sister, and aunt through the evening. It was a good visit. We popped back in on Dad Wed. morning for a while before heading back on the plane. Dad looked much better, his eyes were clearer and his speech better, although he said he did not feel any better. I gave him a big card and balloons and a Bonsai plant for Father's Day. I hugged him and told him I loved him and that I pray for him. This will probably be the last time I see him...

The trip back was long and full of delays. We got back at about 2 AM Thurs. morning and jumped right back into life here. Paul was back to work bright and early, Kristen got her cast off at 8:30 AM, half day of school for Tyler, picking the other kids back up from their dad's, laundry... No time to blink!

Fri. came with more end of school stuff and a HUGE fight with the ex about stuff that the kids went through while I was gone. Again, sparing details, just a gut-wrenching heartache. We have a mediation appt. this week to try to work some stuff out.

I did entitle this post "healing tears" for a reason! Almost right after I walked into dad's room, I whispered to Paul "when I walk out of here, I am going to loose it." Those tears never really came. I cried briefly Wed. morning when Paul and I were praying together, but not much. When we got home, there was so much to do, I really did not have time to grieve. Then so much turmoil with the ex. ...And I had to work last night!!! The tears started to flow when I called Paul on one of my breaks, but I had to very quickly get it back under control and go back to work. No real time for grieving there.

So, by this morning, I was physically and emotionally spent, hence my facebook entry of "weary, oh so weary." And yet, more trouble with the ex. He never called or showed up to take the kids for his visiting time... since Paul was working today, I called Mom and asked if she could take them while I got a few hours of sleep. The volcano of tears was so close to erupting as I handed the kids over to Mom and my sis in law. They poured out so much love on me with their kindness.

As I fell into bed, I turned on my trusty "meditation" cd from "Quieting a Noisy Soul." The first line of it says, "God is good, always. That means my soul can rest because I always know that God always has my best interests in mind." That was all that was needed for the floodgates to open. For the next few minutes, I cried--hard. I do not really remember thinking about anything, just needing to release the emotion. When the well was dry, an incredible peace flowed through me and I drifted off into zzzzz land for three blissful hours.

This week was tough. We all have them! But, as I have been reminded of my favorite verse yet again, God is faithful, and will not let me be tried beyond what I can bear. For all you "pray-ers" out there, please do remember us this week. The ex and the wife are really pushing buttons and are very antagonistic. Please pray for the kids. They are the ones who are really caught in this.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A hero of the faith

Have you ever been in a worship service where something other than the preaching has a profound impact on you? I did this morning. Not to say that our Pastor's sermon was not wonderful, because it was; but for me, and some others' judging from the amount of people wiping their eyes, we had one of those moments that we will remember for a long time to come.

Our pastor wears many hats on a Sunday: Sunday School teacher, song leader, announcements, etc. Often times, to break things up a bit, Pastor will call upon a man in the congregation to say the opening prayer. Today he called upon Dave B. Dave is about the age of my parents and is one of the tallest men I have ever met. I could easily walk under his outstretched arm. Dave is a strong man of the faith, one that we have told our children to watch and model his behavior in worship. In recent weeks, Dave has been missing a lot of services due to a bad back. He is in immense pain and has even been using a cane to walk. He entered Sunday school this morning almost right at the end, and with each step he took, you could see the pain written all over his face.

The morning service opened with a rousing rendition of "And Can it Be?" Pastor, as usual called upon someone to open in prayer. He called on Mr. B. As you find yourself doing if you go to church regularly, I immediately bowed my head and waited for the prayer to start. Seconds rolled on. Just when I was starting to think maybe he hadn't heard Pastor, he began in a choked-with-emotion voice: "Lord, thank you so much for allowing us the privilege of being here today...."

I was instantly choked with tears myself, as I thought of the effort and dedication it took for him to be in that pew today. I do not really remember much of the rest of the prayer, but when the "Amen" was spoken, I looked up to see several others wiping their eyes as well. His incredibly sincere love and desire to be in God's house was so evident through the tone of his prayer. What a great reminder to all of us who can so methodically get up on a Sunday morning and just get ready for church. May we never take for granted the privilege of worshiping in God's house.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Three weeks in the life of the LaRue/ LaFlammes

... Evening before Mother's Day... Had a blast at LaFlamme family Mother's Day cookout. Got stormed on big time- hail and all!! But such love and warmth from so many!

... Mother's Day morning... Papa somehow managed to keep all kids quite until a 7:30 wake up: all five kiddos surrounded my bed and screamed "HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY" to wake me up. I got scarred out of my skin, but it was so precious. Each kid had a little something for me and then Paul wrapped it up with a beautiful flower bouquet in a Yankee Candle. He even made pancakes for everyone.

...Tyler sneaks a frog onto the bus to bring home from school. "Hoppy" became the main attraction for the next two days. Mom drew the line at allowing it into the house, but the kids set up a whole little "habitat" for it on the porch. Oh, how the tears flowed from poor Tyler when he awoke Sun. morning to find Hoppy belly up in his water. Paul took him out back and dug a hole under a tree where Ty lovingly buried him.

... Judson walks around the house for days saying "Hoppy dead. Hoppy dead." Tyler tears up just about every time.

... Judson gets his elbow dislocated while playing with kids at church. Trip to the ER. Three x-rays taken. I am told this is a very common injury amongst two-year-olds. We were shown how to pop it back in if it happens again-- really? Do you think this mom could just pop her own son's arm back into place?!!!

...I visit the dr. again. The swollen lymph node in my armpit has not gone away. (Relating back to my sickness of Jan. and Feb.) I have been referred to a surgeon for a biopsy. My consult is this week, but it sounds scarier than it is. Still no evidence to support cancer, they just need to find out why it is still inflamed. I will admit the prospects of a biopsy are not that inviting for me. Yea, a bit scary.

... Same night... Kristen falls off a playhouse while playing with kids at church. Arm still hurts the next morning, so off we go to the ER again. Three x-rays later, "yep, you broke your arm, Hunny." Mom learned a big lesson that day: the old saying "it's not broken as long as you can still move it" only works for fingers (as the nurse so politely informed me)!!

... The ex and I have a big fight about recent injuries.... that's all that needs to be said...

... we went to court with Paul's ex... many things discussed... a GAL (guardian at lit em) assigned... we are holding fast to God's promises and that "...the truth will set you free." Please pray with us over the next couple of months as things are being brought out, and that the blatant lies told will be all uncovered.

... We rejoice that God has provided so abundantly for our needs.

... Since my kids spent the night at their dad's and Paul had to return Gage to his mom at 7AM, we had five blissful hours the morning of Memorial Day to ourselves.... I'll just leave that one alone! We had a late breakfast and then got to work planting our garden...

... went with the kids on a field trip to a planetarium... great fun!!! Bryce later told people he had so much fun on the field trip to the "tiny-tarium"!!!!!

Seems there is never a dull moment with us... hopefully there will be no more serious injuries. We have a full summer ahead with two camping trips, VBS, Kristen in gymnastics, and whatever else we can find to do!