Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If you would, please

I have a request.

You see, I am going to do something next week that I sort of dread. But I'm dreading it with the hopes that I will come away with answers, a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

After 5 years of:

*seeing doctors {8 by my count} who have poked and prodded me and asked me a myriad of questions, and been stumped by the answers

*being tested for all sorts of awful things, none of which I seem to have {thanking God for that one}

*taking all sorts of different medications {some appear to be snake oil, if you ask me}

*being frustrated out of my mind
*living with seizure type activities {that they say are not seizures} occasional loss of cognitive abilities, and periods of being unable to communicate verbally

* being diagnosed {or not diagnosed} as 'interesting', 'off' and 'that ain't right'

*wearing my big girl panties far more than I'd like

*causing many people who love and care for me to worry, and doing some worrying myself

*shedding countless tears and facing down terrible fears

and last but not least

*being loved and tenderly cared for by the Amazing Rocket Man...

I have an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Florida next week. I am to arrive at 7 am on Monday and will be evaluated by Dr. Elizabeth Shuster in the Neurology Clinic.

So, here's my request. Would you say a prayer for me, for Rocket Man, for Dr. Shuster and the nurses and technicians that we will be dealing with next week? For safe travel to and from Jacksonville and for some answers.

We would appreciate it a great deal.

I will try to make posts on our adventures as we go.


Friday, September 24, 2010

I Love You More and More

Neenie and me enjoying a good time

Wasn't she beautiful?

Our four generations portrait, taken in 1981. Mother is standing up, Neenie and I are holding my daughter, Annie.

I am remembering and missing my grandmother today. She would have been 103 if she were alive. She was an incredible woman and I am very thankful for the relationship that we shared. I've put together a few pictures of her to mark the day. She went to her heavenly home 7 years ago, and I've missed her every day. But I carry a part of her in my heart, and I know that I will see her again. Happy Birthday, Neenie. I love you more and more.


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If not me...then who?

I work as the Clergy Administrator {fancy word for Preacher's Secretary} in a large church. We regularly have folks come in needing assistance. Everything from something to eat or assistance purchasing medications to help with rent, utilities or car repairs. We have people who want money for gas to get 'home' and some who just come in asking for prayer.

Yesterday, we had a woman come in who was in desperate need of help. She was in extreme pain with a broken thumb but I believe that her torment was more than that. I believe that she is a drug addict, and she was in need of a fix.

She had wristbands on each arm from the hospitals in town. If she was to be believed, she had been in and left the ER from each. She was somewhat delirious and crying as she rocked back and forth violently.

I've dealt with a lot of people in the years I have worked at the church, but I don't know that any have touched my heart the way she did. I tried to calm her down, got her to drink some water and explained that I couldn't treat medical problems. I went and got a Pastor and we decided to call a cab for her if she would agree to go back to the hospital ER. She agreed, so I called the cab.

As we waited for the cab, I held her hand, rubbed her back and got her to sing with me. Every now and then she would get completely still and fall asleep for just a few seconds. Then she would jerk awake and start rocking again, moaning in pain. When I asked her if she knew "Jesus Loves Me" she said yes and we sang that together. She got calm as we did that, and she knew every word. Tears, not the same as before but a different sort of tears, flowed from her eyes as that old familiar song, I presume from her childhood, seemed to bring her a moment of calm and perhaps comfort.

The Pastor prayed with her and we said The Lord's Prayer together. Each time, she would fall asleep for just a few seconds and jerk back awake. After what seemed a very long time, although it really wasn't, the cab came and we put her in it. The Pastor paid for her ride {and gave the driver a healthy tip, which she probably earned}. She asked me to call someone to tell him where she was going. I believe he was her dealer. Or pimp. Or both.

She caused quite a stir in our somewhat pristine environment. I feel like I have absorbed her odor, which quite frankly wasn't all that pleasant. Her torment and tears stay with me throughout the day and into today. Her moaning fills my ears. The feel of her unwashed hair under my hand remains. The attitude of the man who seemed so uncaring when I called to let him know she had gone back to the hospital continues to irritate me.

I wonder how long it has been since someone treated her kindly? When was the last time someone stroked her hair or gently rubbed her back? Who sang "Jesus Loves Me" to her, enough that she knew the words and melody, even in her delirum? What awful road had she been on that brought her to our door? What happened to her once she left our presence?

And, I wondered why she came to our church? She passed the church next door to get there, and stopped before she got to the one across the street. Someone suggested that it isn't really my/our job to deal with people like that. I'm certainly not trained to deal with drug addicts who need a fix. It wasn't what I had planned to do yesterday. In fact, I had planned to be back at home, taking a few hours off before she got there. She certainly wasn't in my well-planned day, which was shot long before she arrived...which was why I was still in the building.

As I pondered my day, and shared with the very wise Rocket Man all the events of the day, he said something that I can't get out of my head. He said, "If not you, Molli...then who?"

Indeed. If not me...then who?

I pray regularly that God will place people in my path who have need of something, some part of Him that I can share with them. Sometimes, that includes opening my wallet and sharing my money. Occasionally, I have given away leftovers from last nights' dinner that I had intended to eat for lunch. My gloves. A smile. A prayer. Maybe even hope on occasion that there might be better days ahead. And, yes...even singing that precious song, "Jesus Loves Me" to try to calm a tormented soul.

If not me...then who?

Will you join me in looking for people who need something you can share? If you ask, God will place people in your path who have need of something, some part of Him that you can share with them.

If not me...if not you...then who?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Long and Winding Road

This is my final post in a 15 part series to tell the stories of my youth with Janna over at Mommy's Piggy Tales.

I graduated from high school in June of 1975. I graduated from college in May of 2003. Not everyone takes 28 years to complete a college education, but I did. I found myself in the spring of 2002 re-evaluating my goals, and knew that if I were ever going to finish those 7 classes that I needed to graduate I'd better do it soon.Was I content to be only 7 classes short of a college degree? For the rest of my life?

As I was contemplating all of this, a curious set of circumstances fell into place--almost like the planets aligned in the correct order. The 401(k) that I had gotten in a divorce settlement was doing very well. Funds were available for me to quit my job and finish school. My oldest step-daughter was about to be a senior in high school, and then we would have her in school...so it was sort of a now or never situation. I had a job that was beginning to drive me batty. I was certain that the church job I had was taking years off the end of my life. I loved my boss, but my goodness! I couldn't keep up with him. So one day in late April of 2002, I checked the class schedule for the following year. Guess what? The 7 classes that I wanted (not that would meet the requirements, but classes I wanted) to take were not only being offered, but were also being taught by the professors I would have chosen to study under. 1 class in the summer mini-semester, 3 in the fall and 3 in the spring.

I re-enrolled, signed up for the classes, turned in my notice and by golly...I went back to school. This was it. It was now or never time. It was time toMan Up or Go Home (a motivational phrase used by one of Rocket Man's former favorite basketball coaches).

One more time, I bought my books, filled up my backpack, went back to a familiar room in Roberts Hall and was once again immersed in the education process. That summer mini-semester nearly killed me. Renaissance and Reformation in a month. We went to school 4 days a week and were in class for 3 1/2 hours. It was killer. Every night, I would read (scan and hope I caught what he wanted) as many as 600 pages for the next days' class. It was a class for seniors and graduate students. I thought I would die. I knew it was going to kill me. I loved it. I felt like I'd come back home.

The academic year flew by and I did my share of student whining, crying, procrastinating, paper writing, had test anxiety and did more than a few all-nighters. My papers were all written and turned in. All I had left to do was take those final exams and walk the stage to get my diploma. Only glitch in the whole thing was that my precious Neenie, my dear grandmother, was dying with congestive heart failure. She died the night after I attended my last class.

Rocket Man and I drove home to Missouri early the next morning, to celebrate her life and mourn her death with my family. I called back to the school and made arrangements to take my finals late. My professors were very kind and sympathetic. There would be time to take my finals when I returned home, and one of them was so kind as to send me the final via email. I took it and emailed it back to him. I will never forget how wonderful that felt. To be trusted and shown such compassion. I rode home after the funeral with my head in a book, but I don't think I really got anything out of that studying.

I took a deep breath, pulled on my big-girl panties and took those tests. I passed with flying colors. They were the types of tests that cramming for would have never helped, anyway. You either got the concepts and could write about them or you didn't. I got them.

There was last minute paperwork to take care of between finals and graduation. I had this silly fear that some lady in an administrative office would call and say that I was lacking a class in Breathing-for Credit or something. It was a28 year recurring nightmare that after all that work, I had missed something.

But I got that paper that paper signed off by every necessary person and I got out the gown that I had purchased and tried to steam the wrinkles off of it. My parents drove to town, as did my son and daughter in law. I was actually going to graduate from college. I could hardly believe it!

May 11, 2003 dawned bright and clear. It was Mother's Day, and so wonderful to spend it with not only my Dear Mother, but also my precious children AND grandchildren. One of my stepdaughters was even with us for part of the day. We went to church and then out to lunch and my anticipation was building like crazy.

I had hummed Pomp and Circumstance for so long that it felt like my theme song. And,finally. At long last, here I was. I donned my cap and gown (and my honor cords...I was so proud) and found my assigned spot in the line. I didn't see a soul I knew, but it didn't matter. The line began to move and we snaked through the civic center. I reached up to check my funny hat, made sure my white tassel on the correct side and we emerged into the arena. I heard a familiar tune. Could it be? Was the orchestra really and truly playing....YES!


That turned into one of the longest afternoons of my life. Some man gave a speech that nobody listened to. Yada, yada, yada. Get to the good stuff, please. We graduated by colleges, and the College ofLiberal Arts was 3rd. I read every name in my program as they called them out. I counted how many names until my college would stand en masse. Finally, our escort signaled for us to stand and I wanted to jump up and shout!!! The girl in front of me kept stopping to wave to friends and I finally put my hands on her back and gently pushed her. Excuse me? Let's go, girlie! I wanted to get to that stage. I wanted to be there when they called my name.

All of the sudden, I was up on the stairs. Check the hat. Listening. Listening. Closer to the Dean, who was beaming at me, as she knew me and my story. It had been 27 years, 11 months and 9 days since I'd walked across a stage and received any sort of academic diploma. Hurry up! Say my name. Say it right. Then, there is was. "Mollianne Buster Massey, Cum Laude." Walk across the stage. Check hat, again...dropped my grandmother's handkerchief on the stage but kept on walking. Look at the President, shake his hand and RECEIVE THE DIPLOMA! The wonderful young man behind me picked up my hankie and handed it to me. It was a good thing, because before I got down the stairs on the other side of the stage, I was in tears.

I stopped to have my picture taken by the professional photographer and looked up. My Mother and my Rocket Man were leaning over the rail, taking pictures and waving. I waved back and exclaimed, "It has my name on it! It has my name on it!"

Mollianne Buster Massey

Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude.

A degree had been conferred upon me! Me!! With honors! Glory, glory hallelujah!

That road from Widefield High School to the 2003 Graduation Exercises of the University of Alabama in Huntsville was a long and winding road.

It took me 28 years, but by golly...in my case, slow and steady really did win the race.

I can't tell you I felt when I saw the look of pride on my Sweet Daddy's face as I showed him my diploma. It meant the world to be able to do something so positive and celebratory with my Dear Mother such a short time after she lost her own precious Mother, and on Mother's Day to boot! I cherish the gentle pride I saw in Rocket Man's eyes when he kissed me and said, "I told you that you are the smartest person I ever knew." Not many people graduate from college with their children and grandchildren in the audience. but I did! On Mother's Day, no less. I treasure that day in my heart.

This story isn't complete until I say that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to so many. To Ken McFetridge, Andy Cling, Brian Martine, Craig Hanks, Dick Gerberding, my PEO chapter, my church family, my children, my parents, my classmates and a plethora of others who encouraged and helped me along the way. Most especially to my darling Rocket Man, Ed Massey, who gently encouraged me, and helped me pass Pre-Calculus. My heart is full of gratitude every time I look at the diploma hanging on the wall of my office and know that it took a village to get me through school. Thank you, one and all.