Neglected by Choice

Most of you out there in blogland also follow me on Twitter or Facebook so you probably already know why this blog has sat dorment for a month. The rest of you, maybe sponsors I’ve just started building relationships with or new readers should understand this isn’t typical at all.

Here’s the recap of the last month:

April 14th: I headed to Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing to represent Relief Journal and The Midnight Diner as the new president of the company that publishes them, ccPublishing.

On the way there, my sister called me concerned with my mom’s health.

April 16th: My dad’s birthday, mom was hospitalized. I was still at the conference.

April 20th: Doctors find a 5cm brain tumor in mom.

April 24th: My parent’s 39th wedding anniversary, mom has brain surgery. Doctors diagnose her with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma. (We canceled our trip to our grandson’s first birthday party in Missouri to be at the hospital for mom’s surgery.)

April 26: Phil’s step-dad, the only dad he’s known because his dad died in an auto accident when Phil was a year old, is diagnosed with lung cancer, has a large tumor in his lung and the cancer has wrapped around his spine and nearly severed a vertebrae.

April 29th: We leave for Missouri.

April 30th: Phil’s step-dad has surgery to remove the lung tumor and part of the spinal cancer.

May 3rd: Phil’s step-dad has surgery again, this time to put in an artificial vertebrae.

May 6th: Phil’s daughter puts on a second-first birthday party for our grandson! 🙂

May 7th: Mom has an IV bubble put in her brain for chemo.

May 8th: Back to Indiana.

May 9th: Mother’s Day, I spent the day with mom at the hospital.

May 10th: Mom’s chemo started.

And here we are. I’ve been at a hospital nearly every single day since April 20th. Thank goodness for friends who are willing to help out with Popinjay (and will continue to help!) until things are a little less frantic around here. I’ve made some commitments to a couple sponsors and I’ll be catching up on those posts soon as well as trying to participate in Popinjay. I might even get to post a blog or two with thought on this past month. You all know how much I loathe cancer for taking my best friend, Jill.

Amber said something when this all started, I can’t remember when it was, but she said something about all this stuff hitting right after some very good things happened in my life regarding God. I can’t help but think she’s right. That’s the idea I need to explore. Am I cursed or blessed? I’ve posted about that before with a lighter tone, but after several writer’s conferenced and critique partners who’ve mentioned the fact that I might well be cursed–I might just believe it. LOL

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Grandma Schalk’s Poem for Phil

Written when Phil was 8 months old, on Phil’s mom’s seventeenth birthday (she was the baby of 7.)

I’m told my little dare-devil of a husband used to climb to the top of the stairs and jump all the way down. That’s what this poem’s about.

Grandma’s Angel

Darling you need loving
Like the grass needs the dew
You’re our precious Baby
We all love You

Your Mama says I’m spoiling
The one she loves so dear
You can’t spoil an Angel
She has nothing to fear

On all fours you go creeping
Like a quiet little mouse
While you’re flushing the torlet toilet
And flooding the house

I clean up your mess
And then go take a peep
Stair steps are a challenge
For your fat little feet

I dash up the steps
And I catch you on high
I know you’re Grandma’s Angel
But you’re too young to fly.

by Lillian Schalk
For the sweetest little Angel
Phillip Gale Pendergrass
Age 8 months. August 7, 1969

This was too cute to pass up!

More about Grandma Schalk here.
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Special Darling

I didn’t know Grandma Schalk wrote poetry.

Poetry isn’t usually my cup of tea, but the poem I want to share today (and I’ll be sharing one tomorrow about Phil) have nearly done me in. I’ve cried more tears over these two poems than I care to admit.

Grandma Schalk would have celebrated her 93rd year on this earth December 13th. God called her home on Phil’s birthday.

There were seven Schalk children. Betty, Martin, Frank, Glinda, Lloyd, Denny, and Marilyn (Phil’s mom.)

Today I want to talk about Denny. (excerpt from Meet the Family)

Born with Down’s Syndrome and expected to die around age eleven, he’s now in his sixties and ornery as ever.

Denny loves people and loves visitors. He’s also a collector. Of everything. Pens especially but other things aren’t out of consideration…McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes, fries still at the bottom, Hotwheels cars, my hair clips, checkbooks, handkerchiefs, combs, and whatever else strikes his fancy. Coming to visit means Denny’ll be bringing out the best of the best to show off. You can’t look for too long, he thinks you’re stealing back what rightfully belongs to you. He doesn’t talk, just grunts, but believe you me, it is clear what Denny is saying.

Typically, Denny’ll bring out something, show it to me and Grandma, who is blind mind you, will say, “What’s that there. My check register? Denny! Give that back.” She’ll walk over and try to get it back, but Denny’s adamant, it is his. After awhile, Grandma tires of trying to pry the check register out of Denny’s hands and calls to Lloyd, who hops up and yanks it out of Denny’s hand. Denny then pouts and sulks until he gets pie.

He makes faces at us all the time, probably because we play along and make them back. He loves hugs from everyone who visits and steals your cool stuff, takes it to his room, puts it on top of a piece of paper and sits to look at it. We usually bring Denny a stuffed animal or other kid’s toy to avoid being robbed blind.

Denny couldn’t come to the funeral home, he wouldn’t have understood. As the pastor delivered the eulogy, it was mostly okay. Grandma lived a long, happy life. There’s nothing wrong with dying in your sleep when you’re almost 93. But then this poem was read and I can’t shake the emotion.

Grandma wrote this for Denny when he was a baby. He’s 62 now.

Special Darling by Lillian Schalk

They say I must let you go little darling,
You can only bring heartache to me.
You’re not like the rest of the children,
For you are retarded you see.

You don’t speak or play like the others.
And I know you will never be free
To grow up and be someone special.
My sweetheart, you’re special to me.

Friends don’t know how much they hurt me,
When they say I must let you go.
Send you to a home and forget you,
And start living my life over anew.

This world is a cruel place, darling,
When parents won’t look after their own.
You have a mother who loves you,
And will always keep you at home.

I will always take care of you sweetheart,
And do the very best I can.
Our Father in Heaven is helping
To care for my little man.

There was a luncheon at the house after Grandma’s funeral. I took Denny a Daisy from the arrangement on Grandma’s casket. He put it on the floor between the Pokemon cards Zane gave him and the picture I helped him draw the day before.

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Letterboxing in Missouri

I told you here we’d be going Letterboxing while we were in Missouri–well, we did!

The first one we did at Beaver Creek Conservation area was a bust. We followed the excellent directions, but there was no box hidden at the location. It seemed to us that this place was well used by people who maybe don’t have a lot of other things to do and possibly the box was stolen because of that. When we pulled up to park, a white car pulled in after us and parked three spots to the right. They were hot and heavy getting it on and they didn’t even put their car in park. We had to cover Zane’s eyes and Mike wanted to go scare them.

The second one made it all worth while. This one was located at Maramec Springs State Park.

I didn’t set out to take photos of all scenic mentions in the directions, but it seems I have. So let me show you how letterboxing works in our family. Mind you, we’re not typical. Sorry to disappoint.

We entered the and parked as the directions stated. Then it said, “Head east toward the bridge with a yellow sign. Read the sign and heed it. Cross the foot bridge and enjoy the trout scenery. You can buy fish food 10 or 25 cents and feed them if you wish.” So of course, who can resist popping in quarters to feed the fish? Not my boys!

Next, “Follow the trail toward the green spring house, cross the bridge before the spring house.”

“You will see a tunnel on your left. Take the stairs under the bridge. Continue straight on the trail.” I don’t think they intended Zane to take a pit stop, but what can you do?

Then, “Follow the main trail past the furnace. Up the hill you will see green and yellow equipment built for fun. No time for that now. Take the low road to the river.”

“Continue North on paved path. You will hear the babbling brook in the distance & see people with fishing poles. “

Past the tiny spring you will follow the trail up the hill and continue on the trail between the two black rails. Continue trail down the trail.

A big tree once stood tall is where you’ll find it all. Take a break on the edge of the fallen tree and you’ll see a brown building with green roof at 2 o’clock. Reach where moss always grows under the tree covered by debris.

So. We looked for a fallen tree. And Phil dug with a stick. Because there might be spiders or snakes. Don’t the boys look excited? But the box wasn’t there. So we looked for another fallen tree. And we dug some more. And we couldn’t find the box. And everyone was bummed. But the park was so amazing and beautiful that we were all glad we stopped anyway. We figured the box had been planted before the flood and it must have been washed away. You could see the flood lines and the water had covered the path the box was supposed to be hidden on. So we decided to make the best of it and enjoy the day.

But wait! What’s that? We miscalculated? Or maybe the one reading the directions didn’t quite “get it?” It said, ” If you pass the 2nd stairs past the big rippling water you’ve gone to far. ” Lord have mercy we didn’t pass the 2nd stairs yet!! So we found yet another fallen tree. And Phil dug again. Don’t the boys look even more excited? Well, at least Phil pretends for me.

And there it was!!! The box!! So we all stamped the book inside the box and used the stamper inside the box on our journals. Finally. Success. Now the boys at least look interested, don’t you think?
The directions then read, “Continue North on the trail and enjoy the swinging bridge.”

We did. But I’ve posted tons of pictures today so I might have to continue this tomorrow. Or because I know myself, it might be a week or a month from now. But I’ll remind you where I talked about it first.

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Going Camping

So no sooner do we get back from one trip and we’re going on another. That’s okay with me though.

We’re going camping as my Mother’s Day present. I wish we camped more often!

Here’s some Missouri pictures I haven’ t blogged about yet.