Saturday, July 19, 2014

"Just give it to Jesus"

(Note:  This may be an offensive post to some, and for that, I apologize.)

Last Sunday I posted as my Facebook status, "Stress level 11 on a scale of 10."  Not only have I been dealing with the related stress and circumstances stemming from our car accident, that morning, Matthew was listening to the tablet and talking--loudly--and me telling him to "stop talking" did not work.  Instead of stopping the behavior, he just moved to another part of the house.

One response caused me--to borrow a phrase from Glenn Beck--to nearly shoot blood out of my eyes.

The response was, "Just give it to Jesus."

Now, I know the person meant well, and that usually, when people say things like that, they mean well and they're trying to help.

But this is the gut-level, visceral reaction I had when I read that post:

What in the bloody hell am I supposed to be doing when I "give it to Jesus"?

THAT is what I despise about all of those "Christianese" phrases--I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing when I do them.

Not only that, they come across to me as "be of good cheer, keep warm and well fed" but they don't really help the problem. 

If you want to help, tell me that you're sorry.  Offer to pray.  Offer to talk.  Listen. 

But for the love of God, do NOT tell me just to "give it to Jesus".

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Since June 29th . . .

The accident on June 29th was the start of a very stressful and "crazy busy" time.  Since that Sunday, the following things have happened: 

1.  We cleaned out the car on June 30th and said good-bye to it.
2.  After getting nagged into it by about three of my Facebook friends, I went to my primary care doctor on July 1st.  She referred me to an ENT for the ringing in my right ear and also referred me for a CT scan on my abdomen because of the seat belt bruise. 
3.  We got the payout for the loss of the car on July 2nd or 3rd.  It was a little over $7000, which was better than I expected. 
4.  I've gone to a chiropractor (one that I had already been seeing for back pain) at least three times since the 29th. 
5.  I took Matthew for a psychological evaluation having nothing to do with the accident, this was scheduled before everything happened.  Since we take Medicaid, we have to get an evaluation on him every three years. The psychologist we saw is one we have seen twice before.  She was VERY impressed with how Matthew had matured since she'd last seen him! Matthew tried to cheat when she was testing him and she ended up having to hide the answers from him.  (She didn't get mad at him, she was amused.)  He was also saying "uno" instead of "one", "quatro" instead of "four" and she said that he was keeping her on her toes!
6.  The Tuesday that I went to see the primary care doctor, I went out and found that I had drained the battery down.  I think I left the interior dome light on.  When I called AAA, they told me that since I didn't know how old the battery was (I am driving a borrowed Honda Pilot from 2004) that the battery might be bad.  When the battery was jump started, the guy told me that it was a bad battery, that it might not hold the charge and might have to be charged again, and really should be replaced.  My heart just sank.  I priced a couple of batteries for that car, and then sent an email to the couple whose car I have.  It turned out that the email that I sent was to the WRONG couple in our Sunday School class!!  The email eventually got to the correct couple, and they have told me not to worry about the battery.  The battery turned out to be about two years or less old, and it really shouldn't be going bad yet. 
7.  This past Tuesday, I got the CT scan on my abdomen because the doc was worried about a seat belt bruise; the day I got the scan, they had to redo the order because it was an order for the abdomen but the area where I had the bruise was really the pelvis and the CT scan wouldn't scan the proper area.  When the CT office called the doctor's office, the doctor's office was at lunch.  They were able to find a "back-door" number to get to the office, and the person on duty wrote up another order, faxed it quickly, and I got the scan. I was in and out within about an hour, and considering everything, that was pretty efficient.  I also have a CD with the CT images on it.  I can't interpret anything to save my life, but the pictures look pretty cool!
8.  I had to make an appointment with a new urologist for my interstitial cystitis.  My pharmacy asked for a refill on one of my prescriptions and they were denied because the doctor had left the practice.  I was able to get the appointment the day after I got the phone call about the prescription.  She also had a bladder ultrasound on me and wants me to have a pelvic ultrasound and a cytoscopy (where she gets to look inside the bladder).  I don't need to have those done immediately.  I will make those appointments when the madness dies down. 
9.  The Sunday of the 4th of July, we showed up at church an hour early because we forgot that service started at 10 a.m. and not 9 a.m., since we were not having Sunday School.  I used that time to talk to people and was privileged to hold the 10-month-old granddaughter of our minster.  Unfortunately, I did have to explain to her that she could not put my whistle in her mouth. :-)
10.  The same day as the urologist's appointment, I had an ENT appointment with a practice that has locations in several areas.  I was due to go to Snellville and ended up going to Duluth, in exactly the opposite direction.  The ENT that was in the Duluth office had an empty appointment and he was able to work me in.  The audiologist on duty gave me a hearing test.  I told him that I thought I suffered from selective listening and that I didn't think the audiologist was going to help there.  (He recommended marriage counseling.)  He did find that I had "auditory trauma" in my right ear, and the ENT prescribed cortisone cream that should help. 
11.  We saw our counselor on Monday, who reminded us that we had been through a major trauma with the accident.  Sheesh, I have had physical trauma, emotional trauma, mental trauma, and auditory trauma.  This is my cue to place hand to forehead and wail, "Oh, the trauma; the trauma!" 
12.  We took Matthew to camp on July 6th and picked him up yesterday.  I almost walked right past him when we went to pick him up because he was wearing sunglasses and I didn't recognize him.  When we went to pick his stuff up, he asked me if I was trying to be funny.  It turned out that I had packed him a pair of sandals . . . and both sandals were for the left foot.  All I could was laugh and tell him that I was sorry. 
13.  On Thursday, Frank and I looked at a car, and we both had a gut feeling that something was wrong.  When I drove the car, it vibrated, and I have driven a car before that vibrated and it turned out that something was wrong with the transmission.  Something felt "off" about the steering as well.  Frank thought something was off as well, and we decided not to buy the car. 

I have felt terribly, terribly tense and anxious during this time, and have taken plenty of time to lie down when necessary.  Frank has been home this week, and that has taken a lot of the pressure off of me. After writing down the above list, I think I have had good reason to be tense and anxious.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

RIP, Black Beauty, 2009-2014

Black Beauty, a 2009 Ford Focus, was assembled at a Ford auto plant.  Where, I don't know.  She began her life as a member of a rental fleet.

When we bought her, she was residing at a CarMax in Norcross, Georgia.  She was a year old and in pretty good shape for a rental car. We were in desperate need of a car, having lost our Ford Escort to transmission difficulties.  We were able to pay cash for her.

She became part of the family on January 1, 2011, and for the next three and a half years, she faithfully served our family.  I've driven her to church, the grocery store, doctor's appointments, appointments for Matthew, to and from Florida, and other places I can't remember.

This Sunday, she gave her life protecting our family.

At approximately ten minutes after twelve p.m. on Sunday, June 29, a driver made a left hand turn in front of Black Beauty.  Frank was driving.  He slammed on the brakes but was unable to stop the car in time, and he hit the car.  A loud crash deployed both air bags, shattered our windshield, and crushed the front of the car, effectively ending her life.

Frank, Matthew, and I all made it out of the car with relatively minor injuries.  Matthew has a seat belt burn on his neck.  I don't see any bruises on Frank.  I have a nice bruise on the left side of my chest, under my arm (from the air bag), a large bruise on my lower abdomen (from the seat belt) and some small abrasions and bruises on my knees and legs from hitting the dashboard.  Today, after several Facebook friends urged me to do so, I went to the doctor, who is scheduling me for a CT scan to make sure there is no internal bleeding.  I also get to see an ENT, because I have had on and off ringing in my right ear since the accident.

A couple we know from church has loaned us their SUV, and I am in serious danger of becoming a power mom after being behind the wheel.

We have also heard from the insurance company about the car, and we will be getting a payout that is more than I expected.  That will be a good start to replacing the car.

I could be planning a funeral.  Or two.  Or someone could be planning mine.  I will take the inconvenience of doctor's visits and insurance companies over that.

RIP, Black Beauty.  You served us well.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Five years . ..

"Five years have past, five summers, with the length of five long winters!" -- William Wordsworth, "Tintern Abbey".

Five years.

Five years ago, a tire blew on a van.  The resulting accident killed two people four days apart.  One of them died instantly.  The other died four days later.

Their names were Matthew and Jeannette Prather, and they were members of my church.  I knew Jeannette when she was part of the church I attended in Tallahassee, Florida.  We met up again when I moved to Atlanta.  By that time, she was married with two children.  In fact, when I met her again, it was outside our church nursery, and her youngest son was crawling down the hall.

That youngest son was Matthew.

Jeannette, when I first knew her, was a speech therapist.  In a casual conversation in passing in our church hallway, she said that she was getting her master's degree in speech pathology "in order to help kids like Matthew" (my son, who by then had been diagnosed with autism.)

Five years ago, she graduated from online school and decided to go down to participate in the graduation ceremony.  It was on the way back from that ceremony that the fatal tire blew on the van, on I-75 just south of Macon, Georgia.  Their van flipped.  Matthew was instantly killed.  Jeannette was severely injured.  Jeannette's husband Michael and their older son Stephen were badly shaken up but okay.  Jeannette would die four days later.

I remember getting the email telling us about the accident and sitting in front of the computer, just shocked.  Matthew was a well-loved member of our youth group who was already involved in mission work--not just the summer mission work that our church sponsors each summer, but mission work in Africa that he participated in with his brother Stephen.  Jeannette and Michael actively participated in our recovery ministry, sponsoring people who were recovering from addictions.  We all felt the shock.  People drove two hours south to be with Michael and with Stephen.  I don't think Michael was alone from the time of the accident until the time Jeannette died.

I went to the funeral.  The church was packed.  People that knew the Prathers from church were there, Jeannette's professional colleagues were there, Matthew's school classmates were there.  Several of them wore their high school tennis team shirts because Matthew was a member of the tennis team. 

What is it about five years that makes it one of the benchmarks of time?  Maybe because it's half a decade?  Half of ten years?

Michael still attends church where I attend.  He got married again about two and a half years ago, to a very nice young lady.  Stephen is now a college graduate. 

On Matthew's 16th birthday, a tree was planted in his honor on the grounds of our church.  When his class from the youth group graduated, they added a sign with his picture on it, and a paraphrase of the verses of I Corinthians 13.

IMPACT, an annual gathering of teenagers at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, honored Matthew this week.  Many of the youth group around at the time Matthew died were on their way back from there when they heard the news.

Today, Stephen's Facebook status read:  "Five years ago today.  I hope the memories of my mother and brother are not forgotten."

My response:  "They are not. ((()))"

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Keep reaching for the stars . . ."

On April 20 and April 27, 1974, the Number One song in the USA, according to Billboard Magazine, was "TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)" by MFSB.  (My generation may know this better as the theme to the show "Soul Train".)

While I had to research to find out the exact date, I remember when TSOP was the Number One song in the US.  Because it was the very first time I ever heard American Top 40 on the radio.  The date would have been either April 21 or April 28, 1974, because American Top 40 was played on Sunday mornings.

We were going to the beach, and for some reason, we had WLCY, 1380 AM, on the car radio.  (I also remember singing Jim Croce's "I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song" to our poodle, Angel, while getting ready to go.  That song was on the countdown this week as well.)

It was my introduction to the world of the Top 40 songs of the week, and it was also my introduction to a man named Casey Kasem, the disk jockey who hosted "AT40".  I would later learn that I was already familiar with Casey Kasem, because he was the person who did the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

I grew up with Casey Kasem and AT40.  I enjoyed his little bits of music trivia and his sometimes sappy, sometimes meaningful "Long Distance Dedications".  Like millions of preteens and teenagers, I put one ear on the radio on Sundays, trying to find out, what was the number one song in the country that week?  This was back during the days when you actually had to walk into a record store and buy an album, a 45 RPM single, an 8-track tape, or a cassette tape, and if the song you wanted wasn't on a 45 RPM, you had to buy (gasp!) the entire album

I loved his special countdowns, such as the ones with the names of girls in the titles.

To this day, one of the ways I can tell you approximately when something happened is, what song was popular then?  If I can remember the song, and I can figure out when it was in the Top 40 or the Top 10, I can tell you when something happened.

Casey was Lebanese, an Arab-American, and expressed concern about perceived discrimination against Arab-Americans during the days of the Kuwait invasion.

His last days, sadly, were marred by controversy and fighting among his family.  His children from his first marriage claimed that his second wife was keeping them from their father.  For several days in May, it was claimed by his wife that Casey was "no longer in the United States".  He was found soon afterwards in Washington state.

This morning, while using my iPad in Sunday School, an alert flashed up announcing the death of Casey Kasem.  He was 82.  The voice that so many of us grew up with had been silenced for several months by a condition known as Lewy body dementia, which robbed him of the ability to speak.

Casey would always end his AT40 shows with his signature phrase, "Until then, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars."

He lives among the stars now.

Rest in peace, Casey.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Father's Day without a father . . .

When you don't have a father, how do you learn how to be a father?

While I don't know if my own father ever voiced this question to anyone out loud, I wonder if this is what he asked himself when he found out that my mother was expecting their first child.

My dad's father died when my father was nine years old, on November 1, 1941.  Just over a month later, we were thrust into the Second World War.  He grew up poor, although I didn't realize it until I was well into adulthood.  As an adult, he did his duty in the Army, then he met my mother, settled down, and had a family.

You did your duty back then, and you never asked the question, how do I do it?  lest you were considered less than a man.

I don't know how my father learned to be a father.  I don't know how much he learned from his father.

Perhaps my father learned how to be a father from his mother, my Granny Mary.  After she was widowed, she raised five children on her own, four of them being boys.  Three of them had biological children and one raised stepchildren.

I have been told that my Granny Mary was "one of the sweetest persons on earth", and that may have been where my father learned to be a father.  In my father's 1953 yearbook, his classmates' main admonition to him was to "stay sweet".

I'm also sure he was affected by the media and political climate of the 1940's and 1950's.  Men led their families, wives followed.  Men provided for their families and women took care of the house.  it was years before I realized that my dad worked three jobs to provide for his family--he taught school during the day, adult education twice a week, and took on clients during tax season.  It was just something he did, not something he ever talked about. 

He and my mother bought a building in the 1980's and started a day care center/preschool.  That business still exists today, although my mother is no longer involved.  She sold it when Daddy died, saying, it's just not the same without him. 

He was conservative and Republican, and I get a lot of my political leanings from him.

When he was dying, he didn't complain.  I don't remember him complaining about a whole lot of things, though I wonder how much he confided in my mother. 

The fact that I refer to him as "Daddy" says something.  It implies an intimacy that some children do not have with their parents.  My husband never refers to his father as "Daddy"; it is usually "Dad" or "Frank".  Come to think of it, my husband grew up with his father, and as my husband understands it, the relationship was strained.  Maybe that is another way of "growing up without a father"--growing up with a man who is physically present but emotionally absent. 

However my father learned to be a father, he learned it well.  He raised two daughters of whom I'm sure he was very proud, and he would enjoy his two grandchildren.  One would like to be a psychologist.  The other wants to be a youth minister. 

I'd like to think that Daddy learned how to compensate for what he felt were his weaknesses of not having a father of his own. 

Happy Father's Day.

I miss you.

Just my. 04, adjusted for inflation.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

"Goodbye friends. Save our souls."

"Goodbye friends.  Save our souls."

These were the last words from a group of Hungarian rebels, transmitted on or about November 5, 1956.  They were fighting a rebellion against the Communists that they thought had succeeded.  But the Communists turned around and crushed them.

I fear we may soon be hearing similar words from Iraq.

As I write this, a group called ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, bearing absolutely no resemblance to the 1970's Saturday morning superheroine) is barreling its way across Iraq and will probably reach Baghdad very soon.  ISIS considers al-Qaeda not radical enough.

The Iraqis have appealed for help to the United States.  No troops are forthcoming.  An aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, is in the Persian Gulf to "protect America's interests".  

Several thousand Iraqis are fleeing ISIS, many of them Christians, and many of them Americans.  

Yesterday, at a few minutes before noon, CBS News interrupted a broadcast of The Price Is Right (much to chagrin of my son) to show Barack Obama basically telling Iraq to "drop dead".

We spent ten years in Iraq for nothing.  

Goodbye friends.  

Save our souls.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.