Friday, February 26, 2010

FLASH 55 - Our good friend Bill

Today we are sending positive energy to a dear friend who has had complications from surgery for prostate cancer. He is a good man who would do anything to help someone in need.  We can only wait while this process plays out, and are praying for the best outcome possible.  We love you Bill and Lois.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Take Ten for Writers this weeks prompt 2/22/10

I chose the homophones - maize, maze, May’s, praise, prays, preys to incorprate into my story.

Crazy Maizy Days of Spring

In the event you are reading this, the threatening sounds were indeed real. As April’s days turn into May’s, the corn maze in the back field continues to be plotted and perfected by my uncle George. Corn is the primary crop of our family farm. I love to look out the back window in late summer to see the maize-colored tops of the field glowing in the evening sun. My uncle added a maze several years ago hoping to increase our income during the fall. The local newspapers praise the increasing complexity of it each year.

As my uncle George has craftly designed, it preys on the unsuspecting visitor with complex twists and turns, dead-ends, and spooky sights and sounds through out. Turns out, he was just practicing a few new ominous sounds to stir up some interest ahead of time. He thought by increasing the intensity of the scary sounds, I would call the local police. Then the mystery surrounding it would be published in the local papers, thus increasing the number of paying customers.  No one would be the wiser, so he thought.

But one evening I caught him outside the barn with the tape player getting ready to cause trouble for yet another night. Now my uncle George just prays I won’t be able to think up something worse to pay him back.

Copyright Parrot Writes 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Take Ten for Writers - This weeks prompt

Take Ten for Writers is a book of exercises to flex your writing creativity.  Here is a prompt for you to try this week.

The calls with the eerie sounds in the background started coming in a few weeks ago.  Caller ID revealed their source as ten zeros.  You sloughed them off, assuming they were the prank of a clever teenager.  When the calls stopped, similiar noises and sounds started happening in or around your home.  No matter how hard you try, you can't identify the source.  You are definately starting to feel threatened.  You are constantly on edge, not sleeping, and unable to concentrate.  You decide to write everything down in case something does happen to you.

Start with :  In the event you are reading this, the threatening sounds were indeed real...

Use one of the the following sets of homophones (words that sound the same but are spelled differently) in your tale.

  • maize, maze, May's, praise, prays, preys  
  • teas, tees, tease, rapped, wrapped, rapt 
  • pair, pear, pare, heal, heel, he'll

Thursday, February 18, 2010

FLASH 55 Megan's Tea Party

Megan's puppy, kitty and parakeet always loved her parties. 

She skipped to her room to put on her prettiest pink dress, glittery high heels, and butterfly wings.  When she put on the princess crown, she giggled as she twirled around in front of the mirror.

This was going to be a very special tea party.

From Megan's Tea Party - a children's picture book I am working on in my Children's Writing Class.
Copyright Parrot Writes 2010

Kathan's Scrapbooking Prompt

This is Kathan's writing prompt from the book "Take Ten for Writers" called Scrapbooking

Fill these out …they are your “scraps”

• A description of the last person you saw

• The number of words you wrote today

• A smell you like

• A song that often repeats in your head

• A sport you dislike

• A favorite teacher’s name

Then write for 10 minutes, using the following:

• 1 scrap as title

• 1 scrap as first word or phrase

• 3 scraps as parts of the body

• 1 scrap as last word or thought

These Are My People

The small older lady was holding tightly to the arm of an equally older gentleman. They both had beautiful white hair and proud smiles on their faces. I was walking hurriedly through the mall, but this sight slowed my stride enough to look at what they were standing in front of. It was a billboard advertising a wrestling event at the local high school. On the billboard were two wrestlers set in the starting stance with a referee ready to start the match. I smiled as I passed the couple and they nodded in response.

I was on my way to a lunch date with three of my best friends, and I was late as usual, but not too late to stop at the florist advertising red roses by the stem for $1.10 each. I dug through my purse to come up with the $3.30 I needed. It was just a token to give to these three friends, who were my favorite people.

After I finished with my lunch and conversation, I walked back the way I came, slower this time to scan the storefronts. The older couple was still standing in front of the billboard. As I approached, the gentleman turned to me and explained that these were their people – their two grandsons. They were very proud of Tyler and Nolan Helm.

As I looked closer at the gentleman and listened to him continue to speak, I recognized something in the smile and in the cadence of his voice. He looked like my eighth grade teacher, only much older.

"Mr. Helm?” I asked.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Robin's Journey

A part of me died with my sister when she passed away. This is literally true; she had one of my kidneys. Her compassion for others, her love of family and friends, and her courage through adversity are ingrained in my memory, and provide an example of how life should be lived to its fullest.

Robin was born on September 13, 1954. She was 6 years younger that me and, as I recall, we weren’t the closest of sisters growing up. The stages of our lives didn’t mesh; when I was in high school, she was still in grade school. The years where special interests develop, grow, and become important were too separated by our age difference.

When we were young, I remember that she was a picky eater, and was skinny. I have a vision of her always being left at the dinner table when the rest of us had been excused, because she refused to eat something on her plate, usually the green beans. My brother Matt remembers that she would spread her peas out on her plate so it looked like she actually ate some.

I found an autobiography she wrote in the third grade. In that essay, she said her hobby was shell collecting. In the late 50’s to early 60’s, our family had a beach cabin where we spent time in the summers. It must have been there that she acquired her shell collecting interest.

In this third grade essay, she also stated that she was going to be a teacher, because her father was a teacher. She said she would like to teach first grade so she could help children learn to read, write and “learn numbers”. I also noticed she signed her name Robyn, with a “y”. She was making a statement even at that age.

It wasn’t until I went away to college that we became friends. It took time for both of us to grow up into our “sister” relationship.

In 1963, my father started a summer sports camp for boys that was located in the Oregon coast range. The whole family moved there each summer to work at the camp. My job was in the mess hall, helping in the kitchen, washing dishes, setting tables, and cleaning up. When I went on to college, that job was passed on to my sister and some of her friends.

Ann was one of those friends. During several of their high school summers, Ann worked in the kitchen with Robin. They were both in to sewing, and, as Ann says, “had their own sewing camp while the boys had their sports camp.” They would run down to the mess hall to set up for breakfast, help serve it, clean up, and then hurry back to their room to sew until lunchtime. She remembers they bonded as friends during those summers, sewing together, and designing pants, skirts, and jackets for the upcoming school year. Ann remembers Robin as loving and kind, compassionate and talented. She says Robin was positive about learning, and loved her family deeply. She gave friendship and gentle laughter to all she met, and saw the best in every person.

Robin graduated from high school in 1972 and attended Oregon State University to major in home economics and teaching in 1972-1973. During that time she lived in a dorm on the same floor with Ann and Susan, Ann’s roommate. The pictures of that time showed they had great camaraderie and great times together. Susan remembers Robin as a tiny and kind girl who spent dorm “down-time” in a cozy robe with enormous rollers in her hair. Susan also remembers that Robin coughed a lot during spring term that year. This was when she caught strep throat. She was treated at the college infirmary, but the strep organism was doing damage during that time, unbeknownst to anyone.

I remember Robin’s call to me during the summer after her first year at college. I was working in Portland, and living in an apartment in town. She called to ask me to come by where she was working to look at her legs. She said they were swollen and bothering her, and she wanted to know what to do. I vividly recall my shock at seeing how badly swollen her legs and feet were, and my panic of trying to decide what to do.

I called my parents, who were out at the sports camp, and they immediately returned home. This began the many hospitalizations and treatments to attempt to save her kidneys, and to combat the damage the strep organism had done. In the end, it won, and she lost the function of both kidneys, which required dialysis three times a week to keep her alive. The year was 1974. She was back at home with my parents, whose lives became totally involved in her treatment and care.

But through this trauma, she maintained the most positive outlook, and kept her eyes set on goals for the future. Her love of children kept her teaching dream alive. Her passion for sewing was her outlet for the disappointment this setback caused. She was only 20 years old; she wanted to live a full life.

By 1976, she had settled into a routine of outpatient dialysis three times a week at OHSU hospital in Portland. She got a job at Nordstroms in the shoe department, and was feeling well enough to move into an apartment with a couple of her friends from college. Susan’s memory of this time was of Robin leaving for dialysis looking wan and energy-less, and coming home with all of her color back. She also remembers her habit of eating French fries after her treatments.

In 1976, she became a special project of the dialysis nurses. They had someone they wanted her to meet. Mike was also a dialysis patient at OHSU. He had begun dialysis in 1974, from kidney failure due to a hereditary problem. He had finished his degree at Portland State University in health education, and was an administrative trainee at the Portland VA Hospital. The nurses gave Mike her phone number, and their first date was on Valentines Day.

Robin and Mike announced their engagement at their dialysis center on Dec 31, 1976. They proved love can blossom any time there are two people who want to be together. They married on September 10, 1977. Their plans included a honeymoon in Hawaii, and they made the necessary arrangements for dialysis treatments there. Their wedding was beautiful; she wore a gorgeous wedding dress that mom made with her help. The bridesmaid dresses were handmade also. I still have her wedding dress and my bridesmaid dress. Their honeymoon was delayed for a couple of weeks as they both got food poisoning, and needed to wait until they were stronger to make the trip. They made two trips to Hawaii in their married life.

Their romance made several of the local and statewide newspapers. In these articles, Mike and Robin stated they wanted to buy a house, and hoped to have children. They planned to adopt. They purchased their home in 1980, and settled into a routine of work during the day and dialysis treatments in the evenings three times a week. Robin could be found working in the garden of their new home, sewing, or volunteering at a local grade school. Mike worked full time as a medical claims insurance adjuster. They both enjoyed jogging, and exercised at home when they were not working out at the local YMCA. They said it kept them fit, and counteracted the stress that built up from dialysis.

Mike said “It’s just a state of mind – if you want to be ill and feel that way, go ahead. But if you want to look at the world each day as another little challenge, that’s the best way to do it. It’s not really a handicap. It’s something we have to do, and can’t take a vacation from.”

Some of Robin’s quotes will help you understand her courage and positive attitude:

“People expect you to be real sickly, but I don’t have time to bother with being sick. I have too much to do in this lifetime of mine.”

“We think of it (dialysis) as a part time job”.

“We have gained an appreciation of life and how precious time is. We appreciate the simpler things now”.

“Family support and setting small goals, such as running and exercising, helped me get over the initial difficulty of being on hemodialysis.”

“I can think of a lot of things that could be much worse”.

They confined vacations to weekend jaunts. Robin canned peaches, pears, and cherries. She also made and canned applesauce. She had stacks of fabric for the “next” projects and sewed many cute and fun things for bazaars and Christmas sales.

In 1984, Mike and Robin began home dialysis. They set up a room in their house with two recliner chairs, and had two dialysis machines, on loan from Good Samaritan Hospital, that were set up in front of the TV. They were among the 550 people in Oregon at that time on dialysis, with 153 of them in their own home. (The United States Renal Data System shows Oregon had 2471 people on hemodialysis with 23 of them on home dialysis by 2007.) Rose, a trained dialysis technician set up and monitored their machines, and monitored their blood pressure, and their progress. Robin’s run was 4 hours, Mikes was 6 hours. They read, napped, and watched TV or “OD’d on movies”.

Mike and Robin were determined to adopt a child, and worked with the Holt Adoption Agency. In 1985, their prayers were answered with the arrival of Nicholas, just a few months old, from South Korea. I remember being at the airport when the Holt staff arrived with several children. I also remember the brilliant smile on Robins face when Nicholas was placed in her arms; she was complete.

In 1987, she and I began discussing the option of a kidney transplant. Mike had had two previous unsuccessful transplants and was not planning to undergo another. Robin had wanted to wait until the success rate for transplants was greater than 50%. We decided to be tested for transplant compatibility. It took many months to undergo the tests needed, but we were finally told I was a compatible match for her.

We underwent the operations for the transplant on March 15, 1988. It was an intense day for our parents - two of their children were undergoing surgery at the same time. We recovered in the same room, and I remember seeing the result of my kidney working in her; the bag at her bedside was filling with urine. It made us both cry. She was on her way to a dialysis-free life. We both recovered well.

She had bouts of rejection and was on a number of anti-rejection medications. But, she no longer needed to be hooked up to a dialysis machine. That lasted for about 11 months. Her body finally did reject the transplanted kidney. To this day, I wonder if we were truly a match. She had to restart dialysis, and was planning to resume home dialysis to be with Nicholas in the evenings.

March 15, 1989, one year to the date of the transplant, Robin had a stroke while in the shower, and drowned in the bathtub. This day will be implanted on my soul for the rest of my life. The grief our family experienced was overwhelming. Mike was completely devastated. Nicholas remembers very little of his childhood with Robin, but he does remember that morning his mother died.

Nicholas stayed with my mom and dad so Mike could continue to work and have dialysis treatments, then he moved to my brother Matt, his wife Debbie, and their young daughter Natalie’s home. Mike visited Nicholas on weekends when he could, and they took trips to the zoo or the beach. Mike’s health suffered, and he passed away a year later.

One day, around the age of 5, Nicholas was playing in the sand at the beach with my parents. They had been talking about Robin and Mike. He looked up at his grandfather and said, “I wish God had a telephone.” Dad took a picture of him playing in the sand that day, and framed it with that quote. I think we all felt that way. It took the words of a child to express it so simply.

Matt and Debbie adopted Nicholas in March of 1991. By then they had added another son Drew, born in 1990. Nicholas flourished in that setting with his new family. Through their nurturing, Nicholas is now a young adult, and at age 25, has God in his heart, and talks with Him daily, without a telephone.

At the memorial service, her friend Jan summed up Robin’s recipe for life: “She took love and loyalty, mixed it thoroughly with faith. She blended it with tenderness and kindness and understanding. She added friendship and hope. Sprinkled all those with laughter. Baked it with sunshine and served a generous helping to all who knew her.”  Robin touched the lives of every person she came in contact with in her short life. Her friends admired her courage and determination, her quiet and compassionate manner, and her enthusiasm for life. Her family loved her dearly, and misses her greatly.

Copyright Parrot-Writes 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flash 55 2/12/10 Exerpt from "Robin's Journey"

Nicholas, age 5, pensively dug in the soft beach sand. His grandfather and grandmother had taken him to the beach for the day. But he was still missing his mother and father, who had both passed away in the last year. He looked up at his grandfather, and said, “I wish God had a telephone.”

Copyright Parrot Writes 2010

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Robin's Journey Flash 55

A part of me died with my sister when she passed away. This is literally true; she had one of my kidneys. Her compassion for others, her love of family and friends, and her courage through adversity are ingrained in my memory, and provide an example of how life should be lived to its fullest.

I am currently working on Robin's Journey to be posted soon.

Copyright Parrot Writes 2010