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  #41 (permalink)  
Old 09-23-2013, 05:26 AM
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Default Re: A Book And Its Cover... Reconsidered...

Eric,

Thank you for your kind words. People as a whole-- any man or woman --have it within them to summon up great strength against the odds, such as in the fight against the ravages of cancer. But, for a parent, the loss of a child can be nothing short of total emotional devastation. And, burying not one but two of your kids? Let's just say that I've faced challenges that were beyond my comprehension in my younger years.

Lauren's death came during the five years that I spent without my eyesight, thanks to brain tumor #2. Her loss was a bitter pill to swallow-- abrupt, needless, totally unexpected and made more difficult by the fact that I could do little more than say "Good Bye" via one last touch of her hair and face. I don't even remember the eulogies, as my mind struggled to envision and hold onto the girl she once was-- moments astream and afield, time at the tying bench, and every other memory that I could resurrect, if only in my mind's eye.

Laramie's passing came less than a year after the "miracle surgery" that restored my sight. It's true what they say about the other senses being heightened by the loss of one's eyesight, and I sensed her illness long before I was able to "see" what the leukemia was doing to our youngest daughter.

Unlike Lauren's death, however, I was gifted in sharing the last months with our youngest. As much as the disease would allow, she helped out with the tying classes for "my kids," right up until the week before her death. And, as the hospital's mechanized reminders of life slowed before going silent, I was able to see the pain of her battles with leukemia replaced by the peaceful tranquility of her passing to a far better place, one free of the hurt she'd endured in her last months on this Earth.

While many have cited the mindset that "Time heals all wounds...," it does, but only to a point. The scars, if you will, never truly go away, nor should they. Collectively, the scars remind me of the fact that my life was/has been made richer by having spent my time with our two missing daughters, despite their rather abbreviated lives. They both "lived" life, and lived it well...
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old 09-23-2013, 09:56 PM
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Default Re: A Book And Its Cover... Reconsidered...

"People as a whole-- any man or woman --have it within them to summon up great strength against the odds..."

Jerry, you're absolutely right, but not all of us know how to summon that strength. You did, and you continue to do so. For that, along with many other things you've expressed through your writings, you have my respect and admiration.

-Eric
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old 09-24-2013, 05:57 AM
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Default Re: A Book And Its Cover... Reconsidered...

Thank you again for more kind words, Eric. In your writings rests the one of the few true core elements to people being able to tap into that pool of the aforementioned "great strength against all odds"-- the extension of friendship by reaching out in some small way, with no expectations on the backside.

As I've mentioned elsewhere on the forum, I was raised on my grandparents' farm in Michigan, the state I still call home. HCK and his beloved Agnes-- grandfather and grandmother, respectively --were strong, "salt of the earth" kind of folks who lived by their convictions and ethics, a solid set of "life rules" and a sense of compassion that knew no bounds. They gave with their minds and their hearts, as often as was needed. They had "backbone," as some used to say, and no short supply of follow-through. Plain and simple, they "walked the walk..."

In my upbringing with them, they laid the groundwork for my own collection of strong, healing waters, the earliest droplets into a "pool" of inner strength that I would come to need later on in life. And, as I aged, the small "pool" grew into more pond-like proportions, its waters fed by what I've often called "my three mountains of strength and stability"-- my family, my friends and my faith in the Man Upstairs. To say that they all have blessed me over the years would be an understatement, at best...

If cancer, blindness and loss have taught me anything, it would be that there is no shame in calling on "the three mountains" for strength when times get tough. And, as for my grandparents and their teachings? They left me with the approach that a person's greatest strengths comes from truly "giving" when one can, and having the courage to recognize-- and accept --a sincere hand extended in times of need...

Last edited by hairwing530; 09-25-2013 at 05:48 AM.
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:18 AM
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Default Re: A Book And Its Cover... Reconsidered...

In the span of a week's time, I hope to accomplish a small goal that I've set for myself. By the first or second day of October, I will play host to a private late-afternoon tying session with only two students-- a woman whose breast cancer is in retreat, and a young girl named Emily, a student whose time among us is measured.

Some might wonder why I would do this? After all, outside of the disease known as cancer, what could these two have in common, given the vast differences in their ages? I assure you... there is a method to my madness...

Cancer is a roller-coaster of monumental proportions. On a day-in, day-out basis, the emotions of a patient can hit extremes that few can imagine. One moment, said cancer patient is going about life's business with only a passing thought to the disease. The next has that same person feeling as if the floor has dropped out from under them. In essence, cancer leaves no stone unturned in its impact.

Given my 16-year history and knowledge of the disease, the intent of this private fly-tying tutoring session is very simple, indeed-- I want these two "students" to meet. Though resigned to her fate, Emily truly is the epitome of strong, unbending courage in the face of adversity. In the span of an afternoon shared between the two, I'm of the opinion that Emily can do more to bolster the hopes and aspirations of the woman in question than any other form of "therapy." I'm equally sure that the young lady known as Emily can and will help to lift the woman's spirits to new highs, thereby ensuring a continued healing process.

And, there is NO measure for the impact of a legacy such as that, as pure courage and strength of heart does, indeed, wear many faces...
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old 10-03-2013, 05:31 AM
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Default Re: A Book And Its Cover... Reconsidered...

I'd like to amend a statement that I made in one of my posts a short time ago. Back then, I stated that "People as a whole-- any man or woman --have it within them to summon up great strength against the odds..." After yesterday's course of events, it should read "People as a whole-- any man, woman, or child --have it within them to summon up great strength of heart against the odds..."

During the mid-day hours of yesterday, October 2nd, I was privy to sitting back and watching a youngster of rather diminutive size grow into a veritable tower of strength, and sage wisdom and advice. After an hour or so of tying instruction for the two very different students, the young girl known as Emily took command of center stage as the conversation between the woman surviving breast cancer and her younger counterpart eventually touched on the subject of their cancers.

That they each would come at the subject from differing perspectives was not at all surprising. One is approximately 20+ years older than the other, and her prognosis is excellent for her recovery. The other-- Miss Emily? She knows full well how measured her young life is, and how dire her prognosis has grown. And while age and perspectives may have differed, Emily managed to bridge every gap imaginable and lend an almost adult-like feeling of comfort to everyone present... even me.

When the "Speaker of the House"-- she who keeps me in line, but only in the best of ways --came in, I offered up my chair and excused myself. My wife brings to the table her own perspective on cancer, having watched her husband battle it for 16+ years and losing a daughter to the disease. Between them, it was a conversation in which I was the proverbial "fifth wheel."

By my watch, more than two hours passed before the three of them came out to the riverside porch, where "the guys" had ended up-- Emily's Dad, the man whose actions early on prompted this thread, and me. The man and his wife soon departed for their long drive home, after hugs all-around, and Emily's Dad went to get his car to do likewise.

As I opened her door, Emily turned, gave me a hug and simply whispered "Pops... I'll see you in November," before climbing into the car and heading out the two-track driveway with her Dad. And, in that moment, I flashed back to another young girl who once graced our lives not so long ago and realized that "In the heart of a sick child truly lives the strength of a giant..."
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