Sunday, February 23, 2014

Memories of Months Gone By....Part 2

Today is Sunday, February 23rd and although it is cold and overcast, I can't help but remember that wonderful Sunday,  just seven months ago, when angels descended upon my home and my heart was filled with joy!  

It was on the morning of July 14th. The weather was sunny but the temperature was already well into the 90s. As I sat on my porch, wondering if anyone should work in that heat, the cars began to pull in!  It was so difficult to accept the generosity of friends working for me. I was always so independent, strong and more comfortable helping others rather than they helping me. Through fellowship and enlightening, however, my friends helped me learn to accept and enjoy their labor of love.   
Here I am on the porch so comforted to see everyone arrive. 

Within minutes and a loving hello, everyone got right to work. The blackberry patch got raked and weeded, a front walk was laboriously dug and lined with flat stones and the driveway stone wall had finally started to get built. With precise measuring, the cedar fence posts and rails also began getting built and taking shape.   

Here is Sheila Polson and Carolyn May weeding the blackberries.

The amazing Becca Swan who never stopped working, was last to leave that day.  
There was also Brian Bardsley who worked so hard on the front pathway.

                                                                                      ☝Libby Simon and Cindy Dunham☝
                                                                                       also worked hard on the front walkway. 

 The stone wall was worked on by many folks including Chris Beebe and my son Tim Neilson.

  Jim Dunham, Tony Oppersdorff,  Andrew Oliver and Chris Polson worked on building the fence. 

As the day progressed, many friends worked on painting bird feeders, house posts and door steps. They also dug up stones and weeds in the gardens.   

Jane Babbit painted a post and bird 
☜  feeder.

Vicki Doudera 
and Shannon Thompson worked on several different projects. ☞

  Des FitzGerald and his daughter Caitlin FitzGerald, 
cleaned out large rocks and weeds from the vegetable gardens.

Des's sons Ryan and Alex FitzGerald were also there to help me that day.

          ☝ Kathleen Oliver & Lucinda Ziesing (Alex's Mom) 
                       worked in the flower gardens.
☜ Marianne Smith painted stairs and also weeded the garden. 

Some folks took a break to cool down and have some lunch. Des FitzGerald and Michael Crockett not only worked hard building but also spent many hours planning and preparing for that day.

☝Des FitzGerald sat on the cooler talking with Stuart Smith (in green) and Chris Beebe (in blue)
 while Michael Crockett used a tool to measure the height and level of the deck boards.☝

                         Lots of measuring, cutting, covering and nailing took place to build a lovely deck off the back of the house. 

Wyatt Philbrook measured and sawed posts and beams while 
George Wheelwright and Ed Doudera cut and wraped boards.  ☝

Finally after a long, hot and hard-working day, it was time for my friends to say goodbye. As they packed up and waved so long, I began to weep. How beautiful my home had become and how truly blessed I felt for being so well cared for. What a joy to know that there are so many wonderful people in this world who care enough to show their love and support.  

Here is what it looked like at the end of the day........

Here is the new back deck and painted bird post. 

Here is the stone wall and front pathway.... 

                                                                   and here is the wood fence surrounding the front yard. 
Thank you my friends for showing me your love and generosity. I have been truly blessed by each and everyone of you and I will not soon forget it. You have created a "Heaven" for me, one that I cherish each and every day. I pray that THIS is the "Heaven" I get to partake of for many, many years to come.
You are always welcome here.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Memories of Months Gone By..... Part 1

As I gaze out the window this morning and marvel at the deep, white snow that covers the meadow and the yard, I can't help but reminisce on how different this place looked last year at this time.

The Cottage late last January, 2013

I remember that after my brain surgery, while recuperating at a friend's house, my cottage was being shingled thanks to the help of my dearest friends Pat and Don McLean. When I returned home, I was so happy!  My son Tim and I started to work outside, digging plants from out back and making new gardens in the front.

                                                 Here is the beginning of May, 2013 with new shingles and new gardens.

 Because I started working outside, I strengthened quickly and was feeling quite good...almost like my normal self again, even during seven weeks of radiation and chemo therapy!

                                                                                                     Brain Radiation Treatments 

I walked four miles each day and mowed the lawn every week. Several weeks later, the McLeans helped me hire a contractor to finish building the front porch and hang the window shutters.

                                                                       Here is the beginning of work on the front porch.

During that same time, I hired a friend to bring over his backhoe and clear a huge pile of rocks from the back of the yard to the front of the house. This was to create a stone wall I had always wanted. I also had him clear the driveway and smooth it with new gravel.

                                                                          This is the front of the house with the porch finished                                                               
                                                                                     but the stone wall still needing to be built. 
At the end of June and finally finishing my radiation and chemo therapy sessions, I got to enjoy my dearest girl Jackie at her wedding. I was able to pick and arrange flower bouquets, take hundreds of photographs and celebrate the joy of this wonderful family, the McLeans!
                                            Newlyweds Shawn & Jackie Strack with Don, Wyatt, Pat McLean and me. 

That summer was going beautifully, although it was very hot. One Sunday, on July 14th, I heard that 35 friends would be arriving to help do some work at my home! I will tell you all about it in my next post! I hope you'll join me very soon. Thanks for reading my blog and have a glorious day!

                                                                                         This is my Catch Meadow Cottage today!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Finally Back Again....

An early February day showered fresh, falling snow upon the meadow, while the wild turkeys hid in and under the trees. I sat beside the fire inside my cozy cottage and began to, once again, write in my Blog.

 It has been quite a few months trying to figure out how to get back into my Blog account. I guess the account setup changed, unbeknownst to me. My brain has also had difficulty remembering words or reading, due to the radiation damage. I exercise my brain each day, to strengthen and heal it. The Glioblastoma tumor still exists in my head but continual chemo treatments help to slow and perhaps even eliminate the tumor. It has now been ten months and I am still here and feeling much like my old self again!

When I was at the Duke MRI Center in Durham, North Carolina last week, I met a beautiful woman named Letha. She is just a few years older than me and she too has... Glioblastoma! However, Letha is finally tumor free after two years of her trial chemo treatments! She is a believer in hope, prayers and miracles and was searching for another "Glio Gal." During an unexpected encounter, we met each other and became friends! She was a joy to talk with and an inspiration. She gave me a "rubber ducky" as her happy, good luck charm! I am so glad she and I know each other now.

                                                                          Deborah Newman

 I also found another new friend...a "Glio Guy" named Peter. He was casually standing in line at an airport several weeks ago. My traveling brother in-law, standing beside him, casually introduced himself to Peter and discovered that, like me, he also has Glioblastoma! My shocked brother in-law gave him my email address and now Pete and I have been communicating ever since. Not only that, but we discovered that we have the same doctor, the same chemo, the same State in which we grew up and are the same age!  I believe these "Unexpected Encounters" are often "Amazing Miracles!                        
                                                  I am so very grateful and blessed.
                          Someday soon I will share the most "Amazing Miracle" in my life yet!!

                                                             Beauty after the big storm!