“Everything Happens for a Reason?”

Now isn't that Random?
Now isn’t that Random?

(this is an old post, re-inserted due to deletion) “Everything happens for a reason?” Personally, I really do not believe this. (did you just GASP?!!!) I think it is one of those things people say to you when you tell them something about your life that undeniably sucks. I think those platitudes are just our mind’s way of trying to contextualize experiences that don’t fall inside our usual frameworks for making sense of the world. I believe that sometimes we all make pointless, useless choices…..and these are the times you make “lemonade out of lemons”. There are just too many really bad things out there for me to rationalize “everything happens for a reason”. I guess a lot of it comes down to situations like this: The mother of a severely handicapped child who has to listen to the well-meaning chirping’s of her friends who say “everything happens for a reason…(or) God only gives special children to special mothers who are strong” Yes, these people do not know what else to say…they are well-meaning. But this mother is thinking…. “there’s NO reason good enough that I should have to deal with this severe disability….and I don’t think it is part of a LARGER plan!”. Here is what I DO believe: We ALL have life experiences that make us STRONGER. We learn from these experiences. These experiences are what mold us. They help us better our choices for the future. I have no real problem believing in the randomness of life.  Or, that maybe SOME  things happen for a reason.  BUT….. This is only MY take, albeit a very unpopular view…..but it is what it is And I am what I am:-) I’m definitely not trying to change anyone’s thought process. Just give insight on another view.


Channelling My Inner Soul Sister

I’m consistently on a specific music kick. For a week or more it could be classic country, or new country, which is really closer to pop. But it’s all good, like gravy on a biscuit.

When the mood hits, it’s easy listening, James Taylor, Carpenters, or Neil Diamond, I enjoy instrumental orchestra music whenever the vibe is right, Old rock and roll is a staple. Nineties alternative is often my choice. Some of the artists I love are eclectic, but have a huge cult following. Some are folksy, like Brett Dennen, Some rap is clever and catchy, and not so nasty. I can dig it.

Sometimes classical is the ticket to my kick. Oh, can’t forget the Crooner phase I went through a few months back. Seriously Sanatra was my “go to” preset on XM.

When in my car, I listen to Pop Rocks, Lithium, Willies Roadhouse, No Shoes Radio, and many other XM stations.

For the last few weeks I have binged on soul music. Mostly old soul,…Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Brook Benton, Nina Simone, etcetera.

Something many of my friends know about me is I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. They also know I am not involved, now, in any way, with that organization. It has been four decades since I was actively associated with that religion. A silver lining from my experience with that sect exists.

My recent soul joyride kindled memories of Sunday night skating in Riverdale, many years ago. Skating was such a huge outlet when I was a teenager. I looked forward to it all week! It was a chance for exercise, socialization, and listening to music we loved, maximum volumn! it was also mostly soul on Sunday night, That was Soul night!

So, one of the few advantages of growing up as a Witness, in the ’70s, was the integration of their Kingdom Halls. Racial harmony was important. Many of my friends were Black.

On Sunday night, we all piled into a car, chipped in on gas, and headed to Riverdale, My friend, Kathy, often came along. We were usually the only whites in our group. But that never was an issue.

Music takes me back to special times of my life. I feel truly blessed with an affection for a variety of music genres.

Relationships are a Blessing… though often Complicated

My relationship with my husband could be proof that opposites attract. We’ve been together since July 16th, 1983, We have so much in common! But wait, didn’t I just say we were opposites? Yes, but it’s complicated.

I admire couples who constantly spend time together. I also feel sorry for them. It’s complicated,

Happiness is elusive. Sometimes you have to make your own. But that is poor advice for someone who has depression, or any other mental condition. I’m sure if it were as simple as choosing happiness, the world would be a happier place, Life is full of disappointments, but sometimes there is a silver lining.

I feel an amazing bond with my immediate, and extended family, We gather whenever we can, and most recently at my sister’s funeral.

Death brings family together, and more than I want to admit, it tears them apart. Love is always there, though. I think families should agree to disagree.

I’ve discovered relationships take a little effort to maintain. I don’t agree with my family at times, But the love steps up and forces compromise. Love is amazing.

Every family has, that someone, who can only be taken in small doses. But learn to enjoy the dose! With family, there is usually history together. Sometimes the more you find out about someone, the closer you feel.

The passing of my sister leaves a huge void. She was our matriarch. She had a personality that was larger than life. She was brutally honest at times. We knew this about her, and sometimes it was comical. I love the way she could speak her mind.

I miss the conversations. I miss the trips, whether it was to a vacation spot, or just the local CVS. We would go there to get her medicine. She switched stores just so my son, Stephen could be her pharmacist.

I love the way she loved my kids, my grandkids, and me. She had love for her entire family. She would bend over backwards to help anyone who needed her help to do anything!

Her spirit lives on, though, We always worried about her, because she always put too much salt on her food. We’d joke that she had salt shakers in every room of her house. The other day, Erin found our salt shaker in the bathroom behind the toilet. I’m sure she thought, maybe Bennett or Jackson had put it there. But I can’t help thinking, maybe Doris was here. LOL

Well she’s always here in my heart.

Margie’s Tribute (for Doris’ Service)

From the day we are born we start to create the tapestry that is to be our life. Each person, each event is a thread that is woven into our tapestry. Some threads are long
and are woven into our tapestry throughout our life. Others are short and show up only briefly. Some threads are bright and beautiful, others dark and gray. There are 
threads that we think don't belong, that we would like to remove. But we can't. Each thread is intricately woven into this tapestry that will be our life. Everyone of us here 
are a part of Doris life tapestry. All the births and deaths, the happy times and the sad times, tightly woven into this beautiful picture. Today Doris will know the last
thread in this tapestry. It is done
 We can step back, look at it. See every person, event, all the laughter and tears that has created this picture and we see that it was a beautiful life.
 Now she begins a new one.More beautiful than the last. One that we will hopefully see one day and be amazed.

I'd like to share with you words from one of my favorite songs:

It's bittersweet, you see
You're not here but I can feel you
Every memory is on the tip of my tongue
I close my eyes and see your face
I hold on tight to yesterday
hopeing when I wake, that it was just a dream

It's bittersweet.
You said that life is only borrowed
So let's wash away our sorrow
that tomorrow I won't be here with you
Go live your life with no regrets
and don't forget how much I love you.

Doris we know you finely got your wings
It's bittersweet.
Fly high sweet angel.

My Tribute (From Doris’ service)

For those who do not know me I am Betty, Doris’s baby sister. When I was a kid I hated being called that. But As I grew older, I realized it was a term of endearment.

I’m not an experienced speaker. I prayed for composure to get through this. It is very difficult to sum up such an awesome life in just a few minutes, but I will attempt to skim the surface.

Growing up we were in wonderment of her nonconformity to rules. She boldly sneaked out of the house to meet a boyfriend. She’d get on the bus in a frumpy skirt, and when seated, slip it off to reveal a smoking hot mini skirt. She combed her hair over her eyes and wore way too much mascara. She was the first Rebel! But we knew not to tell, she had a special kind of stink eye, Oh yeah, if you knew her you’ve seen it. …You’ve seen that look!

Doris lived large, but she also knew tragedy. About 29 years ago she had to bury a child. Laura’s passing served as a lesson, a wake up call to the fragility of life

. Reading James 4:14, James Says. “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

So we know that tomorrow isn’t promised. We learned from her death to cherish our relationships.,, So we did. We gathered more as a family. We became a family with strong bonds. Bonds that cannot be broken, even in death.

Our sister’s trips were a blast! We set out on our journeys with open minds. We stopped at thrift stores along the way, antique shops, and once we even stopped at a jackass farm.,,,Jokes ensued.

Once on a stop at a strawberry farm, we had our first collective, simultaneous senior moment. We bought, and loaded several flats of strawberries into the back of her SUV. I think we all grabbed a handful of strawberries and got in the car. As we begin to drive away on the bumpy drive , we heard the strawberry flats sliding out the back and into the dirt drive. Four of us, and no one remembered to close the hatch! We salvaged what we could of our gritty berries, and went on our way.

Doris was the shortest in stature of all the siblings. But she packed a dynamite personality. She was a firecracker!. Her talents were many,,,,and they ran the gamut. From cooking, sewing and building things, to skinning a deer. She was one smart cookie with a vast array of knowledge that I referenced often.

Most know she spoke without a filter, unapologetically. And if I’m being honest, at times it was embarrassing. But more often than not, she was on point. Just saying aloud the things we were all thinking, but didn’t have the courage to say.

In many, many ways she was like a mother to me. As some may know we were estranged from our biological mother. And especially in those years, she was there for me. She saw me through all my joys and sorrows,,. She was with me through every significant event in my life.

She was our matriarch!

To all her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews: We, the sisters, are here for you. We are cut from the same cloth. We love you so much and while knowing we can’t take her place. We are here for y’all. We love y’all and want to continue our family traditions

I am overwhelmed at all the people who came to show their respect. She was loved by so many. So let us live large, like Doris. Let us love large, like Doris. Let us laugh until we cry, like Doris.

I know she is flying high, an angel, free of pain.

Doris’ Journey

January 2017. I will begin to chronicle my sister”s health battle. It has been a roller coaster of emotions so far.

Around the end of December 2016 Doris went to her primary care physician to begin testing for the source of her water retention and swelling. She had an MRI which showed spots on the liver. Subsequently a biopsy was ordered. Here’s where the roller coaster ride ascends. We had all been on an emotional low, then she had the biopsy. That afternoon, Doris called us to say the biopsy showed no cancer. We aren’t sure if someone called and told her this in error or if it was a medically induced dream. As she was prescribed medicine to relax her for the procedure.

She was scheduled for a procedure we thought was going to take care of the spots on her liver, when actually it was a procedure to cord off polyps in her esophagus. We were quite confused when the doctor went over the procedure.

The doctor came into the room post op and began telling her how they were going to take care of her cancer and if it turned out to be HCC, she would be booted to the top of the donor list because of the type of cancer and urgency. He said a lot, but we were all so stunned we didn’t ask questions. Brenda and I could only listen in disbelief. Totally blindsided.
After getting Doris home and settled, I called her doctor’s office to get a handle on what had just happened. The nurse told me she had cirrhosis of the liver and hepatic cancer. She said the cancer specialist would call that afternoon to make an appointment for a consultation. We all were descending on the roller coaster, and frankly pretty scared.

I ended up having to call the Piedmont doctor that was supposed to call. I made her an appointment for January 25th. Which was the first available date. I thought I was making an appointment with an oncologist. But realized it was Piedmont Transplant Institute, when my grandson was playing with the phone and redialed. I heard someone answer Piedmont Transplant Center. I was told that for Hepatic cancer, a liver transplant is the cure.

So at the crack of dawn on January 25th, Doris and her entourage headed up to the Piedmont Transplant Center, at Piedmont Atlanta. Her sisters, her granddaughter, Jesse, and Daughter, Sela crowded around the doctor eager to grasp knowledge of this cancer in order to make informed decisions that will set her on a path to recovery.

What we learned was, we havent learned anything yet. Yes, this doctor wasn’t even comfortable enough with the information he had to give us the dreaded “C” diagnosis. Not yet, anyway. He would need the slides from the biopsy. So he will send in a request to her doctor in Carrollton, then have one of their pathologist read the slides. Then the team would meet on Friday, February 3rd, and discuss her case, make a diagnosis, and determine what treatment they will recommend.

He discussed a couple of methods of treatment that have had a high success rate. One is Oblation of the tumors. Described as going through the stomach to the liver and burning them. Another is going in through the groin with a catheter thread to the liver, and injecting chemo particles. This method will cause nausea. We were encouraged to hear this, as before talking to this doctor, we thought a transplant was the only treatment. This doctor was not as optimistic about her chances on the donor list as the doctor who did her polyp surgery. He said there are so many people needing livers, and not as many donors. And there are many hoops to jump through to prove you would take care of the organ. We also learned she has signs of heart disease. This was surprising as she had never been told this before. And it could be another strike against getting placed on the donor list. We asked about the possibility of donating a piece of liver, since they regenerate. This isn’t something they do there, although they may in the future.

So we are waiting at this point. But determined to help get her prepared for this battle.

Friday, January 27th, Doris had to be taken by ambulance to Tanner Hospital in Carrollton. Jesse had called to check on her that day and she was disoriented. She was scared she might be having a stroke. She felt as if she was in a drunken state.

The on call ER doctor ordered some blood work, a CT scan and urinalysis. This took around three hours. We were relieved that she wasn’t having a stroke, but concerned that her liver was not able to process drugs that were prescribed. Her primary care doctor prescribed xanax to ease her anxiety. but due to the decreased liver function the pills were not processed. They built up in her system. She was under the influence of this drug for days. The doctor pulled us aside and told us she should be monitored over the weekend. Someone should be with her. That we did. It was tough to shake the effects of that medicine, but by Sunday morning she was beginning to find her way out of the fog. She has not been eating well. She tolerates Ensure and Frog Spit (a lemon lime sherbet push up) She still has issues with the ulcers left by the polyps that were corded. But seems she just can’t catch a break. Her phone rang after ten one night last week startling her. In her efforts to get to the phone quickly she got tangled in the covers and fell out of bed cracking her eye on the night table. Her eye looked awful. Then began to cake with matter. This was the eye that had been operated on for macular degeneration. Then later had to be restitched So first thing Monday we called for an appointment with her eye doctor. Her appointment was Wednesday. She had to endure a shot of antibiotics directly in this eye with no numbing. And was scheduled to come in for two more. This is very serious. She completed treatment for eyes and we were hopeful her health issues would improve,

She still needed to address her liver issue, but was resolute in her decision to go to her primary care doctor locally, She refused to jump through the hoops necessary to be placed on doner list,

Doris decided she did not want to go through any more appointments to any specialized Doctors. She apparently told her primary care doctor she understood her situation, but only wanted to deal with her symptoms, She accepted her diagnosis and just wanted to live out what time she had without being in and out of doctor’s offices

So the treatment was a diuretic taken via injection twice as week, This helped alleviate the swelling.

We didn’t realize just how sick she was, But I think she knew,

It is January 2018, We, the sisters and our spouses, took Doris out for her Birthday. It was two days from her actual birthday, We did not know this would be the last time. The Friday she turned 67 was spent at Piedmont ER, She was very congested and had a backache, They checked her blood, x-rayed her chest, did an EKG, The diagnosis was back spasms, blood was fine, and heart looked good, so she was sent home with a muscle relaxer.

However by the following Wednesday she was in excruciating pan with her back, while insisting she was fine otherwise, She was so mad when they found a blood infection, She still wanted to ignore that, get her back fixed, and go home. You see they had found a couple fractured disc from the CT scan that they did not catch the previous Friday. We don’t know how she fractured them. But with osteoporosis it is easy to fracture back by even something as simple as coughing or turning over in bed. The treatment for the fractured disc was to inject some sort of cement that would mend it. They mentioned doing this procedure but of course they had to do all the other test first. She had the blood infection and pneumonia. Her kidneys begin to fail and upon all that she had her damaged liver. There was just too much going on to save her. When she aspirated and got more fluid in the lungs her prognosis was bleak. She at first was in a drug-induced coma but even when the sedatives were tapered off she remained in a coma from which she never gained consciousness.

The year following her initial diagnosis was an eventful one. We got together every chance we could. We had our usual family gatherings at holidays, and squeezed in a road trip or two. One of her favorites was our game nights. We also played bingo with Doris and Donnie at the VFW. She was very stoic and did not let on when she was hurting.

We all would give anything just to have had one more conversation with her. And I know, from a personal standpoint, I was not ready to let her go.