Monday, November 24, 2014

Congratulations PMP Survivor Micheal Smith

A few days ago I posted a photo of Bob Peterson, our number one helper in finding Dr. Brian Loggie. Then I posted a photo of husband in his biking outfit: Dr. Loggie’s called husband his Poster Boy. (I did, too.) 
Before PMP I said to a friend, “My life is a box. I go to work and come home. Everything is routine.” She told me to read the Prayerof Jabez and ask God to broaden my ministry—I did.

Look what happened.
PMP patients, Dr. Loggie and Me 

In 2005 Sandy Smith from Seattle, Washington emailed me. After I shared husband’s journey she asked for information about the Hallelujah Acres Healthy Diet  (vegan diet) husband used before finding Dr. Loggie.

Michael Smith after surgery with nurse 2005
Sandy sent me the photo of Michael after surgery and now look at him nine years later. He's the picture of health. congratulations to Michael.

You look great Michael and you, too, wonderful caregiver Sandy. 
Sandy and Michael Smith, nine years after Michael's MOAS PMP surgery. 
More info on PMP and being a caregiver can be found in my book:   

Capsules of Hope: Survival Guide for Caregivers

Dr. Brian Loggie, MD 
The foreward is by Dr. Brian Loggie 

And yes, I'm Still the Lionhearted Kat 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dr. Brian Loggie's PMP Poster Boy

Desperate for information about Psuedomyxoma Peritonei (PMP) in November 2003, I sent a desperate message to a website where the creator of the website had not posted since 1998. I hoped someone might read my post and respond.

Bob Peterson emailed me. He invited me to the I was the 17th person to sign up for the group and Bob became our encourager.

Sometime before husband’s surgery in 2004, Bob flew into Omaha for his checkup with Dr. Brian Loggie at Creighton Medical. Bob invited husband and me for dinner. Bless his heart, Bob didn’t know how financially strapped we were by then and he paid for the meal. 
A professional phot of Dr. Brian Loggie

Bob encouraged Gary (husband) to trust Dr. Loggie. He shared his own PMP journey with us. How he’d followed Dr. Loggie from one location to the next because of the doctor’s expertise. 

Gary did have surgery in February 2004, the week after our 43rd wedding anniversary.

Two memorable incidents before husband’s surgery:

A sweet nurse rolled husband toward surgery. “Oh, Mr. Crawford, you have such pearly white teeth.”
Husband popped out his teeth and handed them toward her. “You wanna use them? I won’t need them for awhile.

The second, when husband looked at Dr. Loggie and said, “Doc, I do believe you will see a miracle today.”

When prepped for surgery we were told it would take somewhere  between 13-17 hours, but nine hours after they wheeled husband away, Dr. Loggie showed up. He grinned at me.

Dr. Loggie's poster boy, Gary Crawford
“Mrs. Crawford, I do believe I’ve seen a miracle—I believe we removed every bit of PMP cells.”  

More of this story is found on my "More Than a Caregiver" website and in my book Capsules of Hope: Survival Guide for Caregivers.\

Husband lived seven more years (to the day from the first time he told me he had a problem). He did not die of PMP. My dear hubby of almost 51 years died of a sudden heart attack. 

It's hard to believe November 25, 2009 will be five years since husband died.

I first set my cap for Gary L. Crawford at Bible School at age 10. That’s lots of years to love one of God’s chosen people.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sharon Understands What I Can't See

Sharon Bushey 
Sharon Bushey and I met at HACWN last year and I bought her book, Meagan’s Heart, a true miracle story. This year Sharon became a miracle in my world when she sat by me at the Friday night dinner.
By Sharon Bushey 
In a  few minutes we reminded each other of our connections. Her husband, a Church of the Nazarene minister, retired from ministry at age 55. They didn’t know the problem at that moment, but soon learned he had Lyme’s Disease and almost died. Today he’s in remission.

My husband retired from being a Nazarene pastor at age 53 because of an physical, emotional and spiritual breakdown. He did recover from the breakdown and God used him until he died at age 70.

After a few mouthfuls of wonderous food, Sharen said, "“I heard you were having problems with your eyes. What’s happening?”

“I have double cornea transplants—”

“So do I,” Sharon said.

“You do? I’ve never talked with anyone in my situation.” I felt tears filling my eyes. In a few words I filled her in on the history. Transplants, infections, laser surgeries, glasses that left me unable to drive at night or in the rain and then how chemo left me unable to drive again.

 “In 2012 the eye doctor said, ‘I can’t help you, but I know who can.” He sent me to a doctor who fitted me with hard contacts.”

“I wear contacts also.” Sharon smiled at me.

“Really? But you wear glasses.”

We chewed over why the glasses and then I finished my latest problem. “Last Friday the latest contact ordered did not fit. The doctor said she’s out of options and going to consult with another specialist. Maybe laser treatment or surgery might help.”

“A year ago my eye doctor told me I’d need a new transplant in one eye,” Sharon said. “He suggested I needed surgery for a disease in the other.”

I can’t remember who Sharon said prayed for her….but no surgeries were required until recently when the doctor removed an old stitch still in her eye from years ago.  

Tears kept pooling in my eyes. “Sharon, you know what I can’t see. No one else truly understands.”

Even while I write this I know God placed Sharon in the empty chair next to me.

“There was a time when a woman in our church got mad at me because I didn’t recognize her.” Sharon’s voice escalated. “I couldn’t see her. For nine months I walked around legally blind.”

“It’s so hard to even grocery shop,” I said. “All the people walking around make me dizzy. Even here in the hallways at HACWN I want to barf. (Yes, I know I should use vomit, but barf is what my stomach feels.)  
Pat Mingarelli snapped this photo in 2011, Even with glasses I didn't see well. 

Sharon assured me she would pray for me. The next morning my sweet friend
Sally Danley, the registrar for the HACWN writers conference, prayed over me while Norma Donavan, Teresa Tierney and Jeanie Jacobson placed their hands on me and joined her in prayer.

For whatever reason, I’m not healed—yet. But we all know God’s timing is for a purpose. I choose Joy on this Journey while I wait for the medical world to decide what’s next.

Still Lionhearted, Kat

PS I do have a contact for my right eye that gives me enough vision to drive on a sunny day and to work for a few hours. Unfortunately, the prescription is only a bit better than my glasses and it’s the best that can be done.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

God Told Me To Sing Again

On my devotional page you’ll read about the man I married. The man his mother named Gary but I called Luke or husband or honey. 

When I wanted something special, I buttered him up with kisses and called him “Sweetie.” 

I’m speaking about the guy I lived with for almost 51 years. The man supposed to die in 2002.

God had other plans.

In January 2007, five years post death sentence, Gary walked out of the bathroom and said, "Mook, God told me to sing again. If you can find me a pianist and places to sing I’ll do it.”

Wow, what a change in attitude. I’d begged the man to sing. Over the years I’d felt he’d wasted a God given gift. When husband sang he touched my heart strings, but often he said, “I can’t sing.” Or “I’m too nervous to sing.” Or “Pianists play what’s written, I sing from the heart.”

Knowing all his past excuses, I began to pray for the right pianist and places to sing.

Because I’d written about all the churches in Cass County for the prior year, I found immediate openings for his voice. But, like he said, the first pianist volunteered her time, yet often spent the practices trying to keep husband “on beat” with her. I could see him getting frustrated, yet God called him to sing.

I’m not sure what happened, but the first pianist wasn’t available and we needed another one like yesterday. And God provided. Karen Collier followed husband. They were a perfect team. And God continued to open doors for the gifted man named Gary Crawford, the man of my dreams. 

Come back for more to the story. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rachel Skatvold, A Lionhearted Author Born in a Workshop

“Beauty Within” is the first novella in the three part Riley Family Legacy Series, set to be released the second week of October. (Full Interview.)

Two years ago the author, Rachel Skatvold sat on a folding chair in a writer’s workshop looking like a frightened teenager rather than a wife and mother.  Some might have described her as quiet and unassuming, but her eyes revealed a timidity I recognized—a deep centered fear carried over from childhood.

In the workshop God spoke to Rachel’s heart. That night after prayer she realized she had value and worth. What caused a change in Rachel's life? 

Get Lionhearted Hungry

(Not Lionhearted fearfilled) 

Look at your experience and ask yourself these questions: 

Ø  When did I first question my ability?  

Ø   Did you ever feel this way before, like when trying something else?

Ø  Have you faced rejection before and felt beat up for a long period of time?

Ø  Where were you the first time you felt this fear? At school when you wanted to talk with a teacher about your writing but the teacher or another student made fun of your desire to use your talent?

Ø  Finally: How did you conquer your fear? (Talk to God, read scripture, call a friend, join other writers and discuss your feelings? Sit at your computer and keep writing?) 

Why is the story above important? Every author needs encouragment. Friendship with other authors and where better to find all that and more than at a writer's conference. Wordsowers Christian Writers are about to announce the 2015 conference. Check it out.  

Kat Crawford,  is one of the Wordsowers Leadership Team 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Daughter Marcy-My Teacher and Friend

Dear Marcy Lou, 

Today I laugh at your feisty spirit. You start at the bottom of any job and end up on top. You learn every position in most companies and accomplish insurmountable problems. You are unbelievable in what you tackle.
Not just wife and motherhood.
Remember the days of pulling lumber in a mill, your skinny frame right alongside a bunch of burly men? Then you took on the management of a custom framing shop before you knew how to measure the dimensions of a frame. 
You are a wallpaper hanger and a magician with a paint roller. You have tucked old brick, laid new brick, and even installed carpet.
Age when you beat up the bully 
Our first glimpse of your courageous nature came when your sister, sixteen months your senior, struck up a problem with a neighbor kid.  tt didn’t matter that you were only three at the time. You went to her defense and hiked the kid out of our yard.
But one of the best examples of your determined nature happened when a junior high algebra teacher said, “Any student not understanding these problems stop by my room before class tomorrow morning.”
Age 11 with Grandpa Orin 
You said you didn’t understand algebra. You had asked to stay in a lower math class. Only one of the teachers thought you a genius and encouraged you to take on the higher level Algebra class.
“I’m leaving for class early.” You said one morning to your dad and me.
We were very surprised when you returned mid-day in tears and angry. 
Do you remember the incident?
You were the only one that showed up before class. The teacher didn’t expect any students and arrived late. 

When we asked what happened you said the teacher said, “Are you the only stupid one in the class?”
Ready to jump to your defense, your dad and I both offered to talk to the teacher—we were ready to call a counselor and the principal if necessary.
“I’ll handle this myself,” you said. And you did, extracting a profuse apology from that teacher who maintained he didn’t mean the words to come out the way they
Marcy and Hubby Don 
The algebra teacher affirmed you and said you showed the greatest wisdom. You were smart enough to admit you didn’t understand and asked how to conquer the problem.
Your plucky nature helped you then and now.
Your family appreciates your strength.
Your employers marvel at your coping abilities.
Your Grandpa Orin and Grandma June sang your praises.
Your dad rode a bike to Louisville to see you
Your dad loved spending time with you, buying you cream soda and having lunch with you.  
After your family moved to Omaha, you become my mentor—my teacher. I learned to stand up for what is right, tackle problems head on, call till I find answers, and search every avenue until I figure out how to make something work on the computer.
And when I’ve accomplished a task, I tell my co-workers or friends, “My daughter Marcy taught me to do this.”
Your tenacity is a God-given gift.
Your willingness to use that gift is a blessing to me and others around you.
Thank you Sweetie for being the beautiful woman you are.

Love you, from Mom, the now 
Marcy and Me w/cheesecake May 2013
Lionhearted Kat
For my readers: I wrote this in 2002, but it is still true today. Marcy continues to teach me. She's amazing. If her Dad were here he'd say, "Of course she's amazing. She's my daughter."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Non-Ordinary Day

Don’t let anything be ordinary is the sign on my monitor at work. It’s been there for years and is looking pretty beat up. The message is still clear.

Last week I defintely experiened an UNORDINARY day. I felt grungy, weepy and fine

When I worked in a counseling center years ago a therapist enlightened me on what fine actually means:  

"Fiercely Intentionally Naurotically Emotional."

After reading the sign and grumbling to myself, I walked into the company lunchroom.

"How are you? Tammy said,

"Do you really want to know or do you want me to say fine?"

"Fine will do, I think," Tammy said.

Sam stood at the sink rinsing a coffee cup. She laughed at Tammy.

"You do know what fine means, right?" I asked.

"The way you say it, I probably don't." Tammy said.

"Don't think you do, Tammy," Sam said. "Just the tone of her voice makes fine sound daunting." 

After I put my cup in the microwave I peeled off the words.” Fine is Fiercely Intentionally Neurotically Emotional. I’m too old to feel this way,” I said. “But you asked for fine. Have a great day gals.”

Neither of the two ran after me to find out why I felt fine or why I bothered to share with them. But then, they probably already received the email about my eyes—the one that said my work days will be erratic. I’m back to legally blind while my cornea transplant heals from the trauma and the eye specialist can fit me with a new set of contact lenses.

I wore patches over my eye for ages--my co-workers joined me. 
I’ve been through this before. It’s nothing new. Fuchs’ Dystrophy left me legally blind in 1999. An eye specialist said, “Well Mrs. Crawford, the bad news is you are legally blind. The good news is with cornea transplants you will see again.”

The doctor didn’t tell me what might happen after the transplants. How long they might last. How the transplant is a graph—like a thick scar and would leave me not feeling pain in my eyes until I’m really in trouble.

Of course, I didn’t ask those questions either. Had no idea the questions to ask.

Even my Team Leader wore a cute patch to support me. 
So why am I just fine? The doctor talked me into buying glasses last summer. “They will be a band aid on your Oregon trip.” I bought them. They lasted me three months—not even long enough to be fit with the contacts that give me miracle vision.

So what's my problem? Is it the expense? The length of time for fittings? The many doctor visits I face? Or the fact I’m measurably slowed down to a grinding halt and can't drive?

How about all the above….

Working on being Lionhearted through the process, Kat
Lion Soak by Savannah Wilkes 

Guess I'll soak my troubles away for the moment.

I've about soaked enough. I feel like a prune. Between the writing and the publishing I faced another glitch in my publication...oh well, it's me. Never late. Right on time. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bonnie Allen Crawford My Sister in Love

The first of seven sisters-in-law to live close to me
Yvonne (Bonnie) Allen Crawford
Born Humboldt, Nebraska 1924
Buried Camas, Washington 1986

Dear Bonnie,

Our second child, Marcy (age 16) with her Aunt Bonnie
If you were here today we’d laugh up a storm at some of our shenanigans.  The day we married Max attended our wedding. Your youngest David, sick with a cold kept you home a hundred miles away.
My new husband and I spent our honeymoon night on your “click-clack” davenport in Camas, Washington. The next day Max took Husband to Crown Zellerbach Mill to apply for a job.
That fall after our first child, Kathy Ann was born, we moved to our cracker box apartment on Hill Street less than a block away from you. We were so young. I was so lost and lonely.
With Husband working long shifts, a brand new baby, no phone, no car, no friends, and my first move away from my family, I was one scared eighteen year old.
I needed guidance and friendship.  You gave me both. 
“Why did you keep feeding us when I didn’t even volunteer to bring food to your house?” I asked about ten years later. You smiled in your quiet way and shrugged like you didn’t even remember those meals. But believe me, I did.
For three years, at least till after Marcy’s birth, we ate many meals at your cramped table in your tiny kitchen. Food a plenty served with laughter. Those were the days when I barely knew how to open a can, much less complete a recipe. 
Yes, you taught me to cook. 
Far left Warren, Gary, Max and Quin (David, Max's son in front)
About then your Max helped us buy the white house where the garage touched the corner of your backyard. Our girls loved to visit you. They’d squeeze between the garages and play in your fenced backyard. Many summer days Max lit the bar-b-que.  The brother’s and your boys played horse shoes or badminton.
Public Domain Photo
That’s when you showed me how to hang a neat line of clothes, taught me how to keep the diapers white, and tried to teach me to clean house.
One day you said to me, “I may not dust, but if I make the bed first thing in the morning, I feel good all day.”
I put that housekeeping tidbit into practice.
 If you were here Bonnie, I’d squeeze you close and tell you I’ve survived the mother-in-law hurts that you and I shared. You helped me through emotional trauma that, looking back, is of no consequence at all.
“In ten years it won’t matter,” you said.
You were so right on many things.
I did learn to hang a nice looking line of clothes, but my clothesline technique never equaled yours. Can you imagine my thrill when Husband bought me a washer and dryer?
I did manage to become a right smart cook. 

Oh yes and I taught our children to make their beds first thing in the morning. You’d be proud.  
Public Domain Photo
You were a special lady in my world. I’m blessed for having you as my sister-in-law—my sister-in-love.

Affectionately, one of your many sisters-in-law,

Marcy, Bonnie, Kathy Ann, James and Max about 1977
For my readers: Unfortunately we didn’t take a lot of photos when we first married. When I looked for a picture of Bonnie, I couldn’t find one with her alone. You notice Marcy standing close to her Aunt Bonnie. The two of them were very close from the time she could walk until Bonnie died. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My Father Believed in Keeping Family Together

My father
For: Orin Stauff Demarest
May 21, 1917-June 14,1996

First written February 22, 2002

Dad about 1993
Dear Dad,

During this last Christmas season I missed you more than ever.  Your name came up often as we reminisced about Christmas past—especially when I expressed to others your dedication to keep our family together through the holidays. (I can’t say as a child that I always appreciated the hundred mile drive to Grandma’s house--at least until we arrived.)

These days I realize how difficult it was for you. Regardless of how old our vehicle, you packed the family of six into the car. There were no seat belts back then. We started out with all four kids in the back seat. Like normal kids, we scrunched one in the middle of the seat on those rattle snake
Lloyd The Void Photo 
corners. Pretty soon one or more of us whined, complained, or cried. That’s when Karla, the youngest climbed over the seat to sit middle front. Those were the good old days, Dad.

There is no way we can count how many times our car broke down miles from home.  You were a wonderful mechanic by trade. You spent so much time working to make a family income, your own vehicle suffered. There you were, under the car in a good Oregon rainstorm—or maybe even snow. You banged away and tinkered while we whined and fussed. In spite of those obstacles, you drove us from Eugene to the families in North Bend.

Always we celebrated Christmas Eve at your sister Pat’s home with her family, your brother, Uncle Vic and family, and your mother, Grandma Dee. We shared gifts, news, played games together, and enjoyed the love of family. Then Christmas day there was another large family gathering at Grandma and Grandpa Leatons.  That’s where I made a close bond to my cousins. So close, the two girls my age, Mary and Gladys, felt like sisters rather than cousins.
Gary, Kat, Karla Mom, Dad, Karl, Jack, Karen 

At the close of the Christmas day our family drove the many miles home for you to work early the next morning. The other relatives that attended either party lived close by—they didn’t struggle with the long trip.

Dad, there isn’t any way to express my thanks for keeping us connected with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, especially since you aren’t with us now. The one thing I can do is try to keep our children and grandchildren in touch with each other.

 Times are different in that none of them live in the same community. We live thousands of miles away and don’t have the opportunity to climb into a vehicle to gather the family all together. That means I must be more creative in keeping in touch. I’ll try to do as well as you did Dad.  You were a devoted son, a loving brother, and I’m glad God gave you to me as a Dad. Your love of family is appreciated.

From your oldest daughter,

For my readers: Those that knew my father are aware of his gift of gab. He knew something about everything—he didn’t just think he knew the info, he truly did. He didn’t know a stranger and he could curse cars until the air turned black. But in 1985, almost 69, my father asked the Lord to forgive him.
Last photo of my Father 
He dedicated his life to being a Jesus follower. What a change. In the last ten years of his life my father wrote letters and talked to everyone about Jesus.

In 1996 Dad and Mom drove from Oregon to Omaha to visit us for five weeks. Dad talked often about "Orin Junction." He wanted a photo taken in a place named after him.

The next day in Ruppert, Idaho my father was killed in a car accident. He told me several times during our last visit, "Honey, I pray when it's my time, the Good Lord will take me quickly." And the Good Lord did. Often after his death husband would say, "Your father always said..." or "I sure wish your Dad were here now to help me."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Third Ear-My Special Friend Lauri Cabe

written in 2002

Dear Lauri,

Maybe 1999 
Most people are blessed with two ears. 
Me, I have three. The ones placed on either side of my head at birth work well. Then, in 1992, a year of struggle through life with Husband after his emotional, physical and mental breakdown I found you, my third ear. 
You listened. 
When I cried, you cried. When I kicked a door you stood aside and let me.  When I stopped by your place and said, “Go shopping with me,” you let me spend money without admonishing me. (We both knew my budget didn’t leave money for even second hand stores.) On the day after a shopping spree when I whined that I spent too much, you listened and laughed.
When I needed exercise you walked with me.  When I needed space from husband you drove over, picked me up, took me to coffee and listened to my non-stop prattle about my disintegrating marriage. 
Yet, when I threatened to leave Husband, while he struggled through the trauma after his breakdown, you said, “No.” 
In most instances you refrained from giving me your opinion. When my staying or leaving hung in the balance, you tipped the scales.
“You don’t want to leave. Not now. He’s not well. Give him space and time,”
About that time, no matter if we were in a coffee shop or at home, Husband would show up. He’d tell a nutty joke and you’d laugh at him. Through his nonsense and your laughter, I saw a glimmer of hope. A man that courld make my friend laugh couldn't be all bad.
Lauri, Me and Husband's Fun Nebraska Pickup
Somewhere in those years I heard a speaker say, “Everyone needs a safe person to listen to them.  A trusted individual that will allow one to run off at the mouth and they continue to love you anyway.” 

Do you remember when Husband showed up with huge plastic ears for you? He knew the importance of you being in my life in those tumultous years. 
God placed you in my world, my precious friend. You are my third ear.
When I wrote this letter we'd been married forty-three years. Husband had recovered from his breakdown and truly listened to me.   

Thank you for loving both of us,

Special note for my readers: Husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary before he died of a sudden heart attack. We enjoyed our trips from Nebraska to Oregon and Washington, along the way we stopped to see Lauri.
Lauri in Enterprise Park

Lauri in the Lodge at Enterprise Park where we ate lunch 
Last ummer, four years after Husband’s death, Lauri became my driver. She drove me over 1600 miles through the northwest while I spoke in places where Gary ministered. 

On our journey I talked Lauri's ear off and you know what? She still likes me.J

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Mom Gave With No Strings Attached

Dear Mom,

Mom Early Morning Giggles 
I’ve written to you many times over the years to thank you for your continual support. Your no nonsense approach has kept me afloat more times than I can count. Those times when I thought I’d cave under the pressure—facing surgery or a family problem that I couldn’t handle alone.
I’ll never forget when I called you long distance to say I faced a hysterectomy. Your first quesion, “Do you have insurance?”
“Do you get paid while you are off work?”
“Well then?”you said. “What are you worried about—it’s a common surgery.” You listed off the Aunt’s and friends that survived the ordeal. I have used that example with many ladies over the years.
“Why fear? Others have handled this, you will too.”
The awesome reality about your initial phone conversation is that you hung up and said to Dad, “Kathy needs me.” Then you climbed aboard a Greyhound to ride forty-four hours to care for my family and me.
I’m not the only one that received your ‘nursing’ care. When Aunt Theresa died you helped Uncle Larry; You lived with Aunt Elnora and Uncle Tommy when he arrived home from the hospital after a logging accident—and you’ve gone back to help since then.
You’re the daughter that cares for a ninety-eight year old mother. You’re the mother that that took care of both my ailing sisters in this past year. You’re the friend that drives a cancer patient to a doctor. You’re the sister that cares for siblings …and the list goes on.
I’m sure I’ve said thank you in ten thousand different ways over the years, but I don’t think it’s enough.
Your "No Strings Attached" approach to life gave me a foundation to share with others willingly. I remember you sharing a loaf of your hot homemade bread with Mrs. McCoy, the elderly neighbor across the fields south of your home. When our girls visited you in the summer time, you sent them up the gravel road to the egg lady, Mrs. Branch. Most of the time, you shared a plate of food or vegetables from your garden with her when she didn’t feel well.
Of course, there were those second hand store shopping sprees, too. You usually purchased a little bauble for one your friends. “You know the lady that cuts my hair? She collects these blue bottles,” you said. Or, “You know the lady down the way she helped me with the upholstery … “If you were not buying for a friend, it was one of your grandchildren. You never came home without some little treasure to give away.
Even today you still give and give and give.
Thank you, Mom for your common sense approach to life and for unconditionally giving of yourself. None of us can repay you for your generous acts of kindness and help.
I love you Mom, you are a wonderful example for today’s world.

Your oldest daughter,

I shared this letter with Mom before Gary was diagnosed with Psuedomyxoma Peritonei (PMP)—a rare cancer with a prognosis of only days to live. Mom flew from Oregon to Omaha to live with us and help me.
When Grandma fell and broke her hip, Mom flew back to Oregon to care for Grandma.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer Gary took care of me, but when he died suddenly of a heart attack, my 86 year old mother flew from Oregon to Omaha and became my caregiver.

My mother’s caring spirit touched many more than she ever thought possible. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Grandma Leaton-Her Rocker and Pockets of Fun

About my precious Grandma, Inez (Bobbie) Leaton
(I wrote this in 2002 and did send her a copy—now I’m sharing it with the world.)

Grandma Leaton at a Leaton Family Reunion 
You blessed me with a precious security from the time I can remember. As a youngster I sat on your lap in your big old rocking chair for comfort, safety and hugs. When my siblings and cousins fought over your lap, you laughed and invited us all into the chair with you.  (How did you do that?)
Years later when we drove to Oregon from Colorado, I could hardly stand it till I saw my grandma. The second we arrived you snuggled my whole family right into your rocker, even though your lap had shrunk. It made me sad to see how the many surgeries had robbed you of strength and weight, but I felt thrilled to know your arms and voice never changed.
Over the years we made the trips to see you as often as we could. When we started your direction, Gary and the kids talked about your yummy cookies.
Looks so much like Grandma's Rocker 
Me, I wanted you to rock me right on your lap like a little kid. And you did rock me until your frail frame said, “no more.”
That’s when you coined a new phrase, “Oh honey, it’s so good to see you,” you’d say, “I just wish I could tuck you in my apron pocket then we could have long chats in the dark lonely hours.”
One of our last visits, we drove from Nebraska to Oregon often I said to Gary, “You wait, Hon. My Grandma can’t rock me in her lap anymore, but she’ll want to tuck me in her pocket.”
Sure enough, while we sat side by side, you took my hand in both of yours and pulled it into your lap. You leaned close like you might tell me a secret. The others in the room were so busy chatting they didn’t hear you, but I did. You whispered, “Oh honey, it’s so good to see you. I wish I could just tuck you in my pocket. We could have a party in the lonely hours of the night.”
Husband Said Grandma wanted him in her pocket. 
Grandma, your constant love and the invitation for my family to visit anytime gave me a deep satisfied peace. I loved hearing all the stories of your childhood and the family I didn’t live around. Because of you I’ve learned the value of sharing family stories with others.  
It’s impossible for me to measure up to you Grandma, but it’s my desire to be a story telling, hugging, loving Grandma like you.

With my love, Kat (the one you always called Kathy.)

A few years before Grandma died, I wrote this poem for her.


“Climb into my pocket.” Grandma whispered in my ear.
We’ll talk the night away when no one else can hear.
Now Grandma’s apron pocket is far too small for me,
Still and all, my heart is warmed by her desire, you see.

Grandma’s hugs and kisses never disappear
I’ve carried them near my heart over all my sixty years.
At ninety-seven I don’t think Grandma knows my name.
Yet I still love to hear her pocket phrase just the same.

As a child she rocked me and taught me not to fear.
And when I cried she wiped away my tears.
Dear Lord, my Grandma lies alone tonight, many miles away,
Please climb into her pocket and comfort her, I pray.
Rocker photo from Antique Chairs (1900-1950)