Tears in Heaven

I’ve heard it said that when we get to heaven there will be no more tears and no more pain… But I now believe there will be tears in heaven, at least for me there will be.

Today is our daughter, Shantel’s, birthday. She is 24 years old today.

Shantel lost both her eyes to cancer before she was two years old. Because she was so young when she lost her sight, she doesn’t know what Bill and I look like. In fact, when she first lost her sight, I would always say “hi, Shantel, it’s mama” whenever I picked her up from her crib etc. so she would learn to recognize my voice.

As she got older, and I would go to pick her up from daycare, or even a little later when I would go to pick her up from school…, I would always approach her saying “hi Shantel, it’s mama”, and she would always answer “hi mama”.

A couple of weeks ago I had a dream that was so real, and affected me so profoundly, that I couldn’t even tell Bill about it because it just overwhelmed me with emotion. I dreamed I had passed away, and was in heaven, and I became aware that it was Shantel’s time to come to heaven, and I was sent to meet her at the gates of heaven. I stood at the gates of heaven and watched as Shantel approached me. Of course, she could see now because she was made whole and had both her natural eyes again. As she came closer to me I said “hi Shantel”, and she looked into my eyes and said “mama”? I said “yes”, and she said “oh, mama, you’re so beautiful”, and we hugged each other so long, and so hard, and let me tell you there were tears in heaven that day… tears of pure joy!

Happy Birthday, Shantel.

I love you,

Mama

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Our HERO

This is a picture of our beautiful daughter, Shantel. For those of you that may not know, Shantel had cancer in both eyes and had to have both eyes removed when she was two years old, leaving her blind for life. Bill and I spent our lives helping Shantel accept her blindness, and learn to live blind in a sighted world. The beautiful smile you see on her face has never faded throughout all the years of challenges she faced and overcame. I never saw Shantel spend one minute complaining, or feeling sorry for herself, and she never wanted anyone else to feel sorry for her either.

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Bill and I fought long and hard to ensure Shantel had everything she needed to get through her school years from Kindergarten through earning two degrees in College. We had to attend endless Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings, to get everyone on board with what would be expected of Shantel in the classroom, as well as what would be expected of the teacher, and the support team hired to braille Shantel’s books, worksheets, test papers, etc. All this was done to ensure Shantel’s rights were upheld in the classroom so she had a fair and level playing field to compete with her peers. I can tell you nothing we fought for, and won, to support her needs came easy, but neither Shantel, or Bill and I would ever give up.

Now, fast forward… Shantel is 23 years old, lives in her own apartment, and all Shantel wants is to obtain gainful and meaningful employment. She does receive Social Security Disability benefits which isn’t even enough to pay the rent on the one bedroom apartment she has, and she receives a very small food allotment card. Shantel could sit home and just draw her Social Security and food card benefits, but she wants to work. She spends her entire day applying for jobs, and going on interviews, only to be rejected over and over again. Keep in mind, she has not one, but two degrees, and can’t even get hired to work in a call center. All she needs to do a job working with computers is a voice over program installed that will read the information on the screen to her. Then she can do the very same job that any sighted person can do…

Finally, after months and months of searching, Shantel signed on with a temp staffing agency. The temp agency was able to get her a seasonal job in a call center not far from where she lives. Both the temp agency and the call center company know she is blind and agreed they could accommodate her needs with the voice over software. She is earning $14.00 an hour even as she goes through a six-week training class. Shantel was overjoyed to say the least. Of course she will need to give up her Social Security and food allotment benefits while she is working but she can have it reinstated if she gets laid off. She doesn’t even mind the fact that the training classes are from 4:00 p.m. till midnight which means she has to pay for a cab to take her home every night because Dail-a-Ride stops running at 10:00 p.m. I can tell you I pray her home every night because I’m so worried about her being out all alone at that time of night. Bill and I live over an hour and a half from Shantel or I would go pick her up and take her home myself.

When Shantel’s training class started, the very first thing she was told was that they did not have the voice over software installed on the computer she needs to use for training. They said it has been ordered but has not arrived yet. This is NOT good at all. Shantel cannot learn, and keep up with the class if she doesn’t have that software on her computer. The instructor told her to “just sit and listen and do the best she can to keep up… ” That is exactly the type of thing Bill and I had to fight the school system about when Shantel was still in school…. Promises made that were not kept and Shantel was the one that paid the price. As her mother, it just sends me over the top because it’s just not right!

I talked to Shantel yesterday, and she told me “mom, you’re not going to believe what happened last night at work.” I asked what happened, and she told me that the voice over software has arrived but now the ITD department said they are not going to install it twice which means they will not install it on the training class computer, only the production floor computer she will use once she completes her training.” Then she went on to say the training instructor said Shantel needs to repeat the six-week training class because if she goes out on the training floor at this point she will not be able to handle the call volume because she has not had a computer to practice on… Are you kidding me!! How is another six-week training class going to benefit Shantel if ITD won’t put the voice over software on the training class computer? I told Shantel to get a meeting with the training instructor and her supervisor/manager and the production floor supervisor/manager and ask if she can have someone on the production floor give her one-on-one training on the computer she will be using that has the voice over installed in it… I don’t know why, after all these years, it still amazes me that people that are managing companies, and people, can be so lacking in common sense!!

I asked Shantel if she thinks all she is going through to have this temporary job is worth it? Shantel said “mom, 70% of blind people never get a job, I’m going to be in the 30% of the blind people that do get a job. I don’t want to live on Social Security and food allotments, I want to be financially independent, and this job at least is paying me $14.00 an hour, and I’m hoping it just might work into a full-time position. But if not, at least I’m gaining more work experience…” My heart bursts with pride for her.

Papa and I love you Shantel, we are so VERY proud of you. You face more challenges in one day than many people face in a lifetime, and you never give up! YOU are our HERO!!!

Stay Tuned!

Going Back To McDowell

As most of you know, Bill and I planned to be at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills Arizona for the winter. We actually spent two days there before we were asked to come back to San Tan Mountain Regional Park in Queen Creek Arizona for a few weeks to help out because they were left short-handed after a couple of full-time staff members left.

We were happy to come and do whatever we could to help out. However, now we have been given the word that we are needed back at McDowell Mountain so we are busy pack things up and getting our rig ready to move out and head back to McDowell on Sunday 10/30.

Bill and I enjoyed the time we spent at San Tan last winter, and San Tan will always hold a special place in our hearts. San Tan is a beautiful day use park with unique cactus formations like the one in the picture below. It always reminds me of a Sea Horse.

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San Tan has beautiful hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails.

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And some of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

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I always enjoyed meeting the many visitors and volunteers that come to San Tan Park. Like this youth group that spent a week camping in tents next to our rig last winter. They would go out every morning and help clean and maintain the trails, but when they came back to camp in the evening they would unwind dancing to their music… Well I never want to miss an opportunity to dance, so I ran right out there and joined them, much to their surprise and delight… 🙂

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As much as I love horses, I was always excited when Matt, from MD Ranch, would invite Bill and I to go on a trail ride with him…

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It’s been a year of fun and exciting travel for Bill and I, but it has also been a year of heartache and loss. I lost my mother this past March.

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Then, in July, we lost my beautiful, and fun-loving sister-in-law Bea, the wife of my brother Danny. Bea is shown below with our precious daughter, Shantel. Danny and Bea have always been so good to Shantel over the years. While we were away each summer they would pick Shantel up and take her out to eat at least once a month,

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And then, just a few weeks ago, we lost our beloved cat, Carmen.

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Death is part of the circle of life, and it’s a hard fact of life… But I believe loving also means letting go when it’s time, knowing there is more to life than what we experience here.

Now, I’m ready to turn my thoughts to another new beginning, and looking forward to making new memories at McDowell Mountain Regional Park. I’m excited to meet our co-hosts there and all the visitors that will come to enjoy that Park. McDowell Park is three times the size of San Tan and not only offers over 65 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails…,but it also offers camping sites for visitors to enjoy… The picture below is our campsite at McDowell.

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Yes, I’m ready for a new beginning, and definitely ready to let some good times roll! I even think I feel my altered personality, Bella (shown below), nudging me to let her out!!! For those of you that may not know… I discovered Bella on my very first trip to New York City, when I went to visit my frissy! Bella comes out when I need to let down, and really have some FUN:):)

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Stay Tuned!

Believe It Or Not

As I continue to process the passing of my mother, and we continue to work through the details of final arrangements, i.e. Friday we picked out her casket and made the graveside service arrangements, Sunday, Bill and I went back to the Care Center to go through her personal things, i.e. clothes, pictures etc. because the room needs to be cleared for a new resident arriving soon, and of course we wanted to make sure the staff at the care center knows how much we appreciate all they did to care for my mother, so Bill and I took two large platters of cookies for the staff on both shifts as a way of thanking them for all they did to care for her. My brother, Danny, is having fruit of the month delivered to the care center staff every month for a year as his way of thanking them for the care they provided… Six years is a long time to live in a 24/7 skilled nursing home, and over those years we came to know and love the staff and the other residents…

When I walked into the room where my mother lived, and died, the bed was stripped and only her personal belongs remained. As I looked around the room I thought about how many times my mother told me, after my father died 10 years ago, that she just didn’t want to go on living without him… As I remembered those conversations, I sent out a little private request to my mother. I asked her to show me some kind of a sign, if she could, that would be unique to her, so I would know that she is at peace now and where she wants to be… I didn’t even mention to Bill that I made that silent request to my mother.

When Bill and I arrived home, he went into our room and turned on the races like he does every Sunday during racing season. I normally turn on music and listen to that while I prep and/or cook make ahead meals for the upcoming week. I never turn on the TV on Sunday’s because first of all there is nothing on that I care to watch. We don’t have Netflix or cable, so if you don’t care for sports of some sort… the choices are pretty slim. But for some reason, out of the blue, I decided I would see if there was anything I cared to watch on channel 45, a channel I rarely, if ever, watch. I have to say I was amazed to find that the movie “Dances with Wolves” starring Kevin Costner was just starting… Believe it or not, that movie was my mother’s all time favorite movie… Like me, my mother rarely watched a movie a second time, but she watched Dances with Wolves six times! I watched the entire movie and took comfort in choosing to believe that my mother was letting me know she is at peace, and exactly where she wants to be…

On behalf of my brother, Danny, and his family, and Bill and I and our family, I want to thank everyone for the messages, however sent, to let us know you are keeping us in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time in our lives. We very much appreciate your thoughtfulness.

 

 

 

End Of Life Treasures

It is with a heavy heart that I’m sharing with you that my mother, Virginia Vezie, passed away Thursday, March 10th, at 9:10 P.M after a long illness. She was surrounded by her immediate family members in the last days of her life. My brother, Danny, his wife Bea, My husband Bill and I, our daughter Katie Decker, and other family members took turns sitting with her.

On the night she passed, I decided I would spend the night with her at the care center. My daughter, Katie Decker, had been there that afternoon, and Danny, Bea, Bill, and I were there together until 9:00 P.M. when Danny, Bea, and Bill said their goodbyes to mom and left to go home. I was prepared to stay the night with her and was sitting beside her bed holding her hand and trying to make sure she was comfortable. She had been getting morphine every two hours throughout the day, and as the evening progressed, she struggled more and more to breathe so the nurse told me she could have morphine every hour if we wanted her to have it. Mom had been given morphine at 7:30 P.M. and was showing no signs of it easing her breathing so I asked the nurse to give her another dose at 8:30. About twenty minutes later mom’s breathing became less labored and we thought she would be more comfortable through the night so that was when Danny, Bea, and Bill left at 9:00 P.M.

After my family left and I was sitting with my mother, I told my mother that Dad was waiting for her “just beyond the moon” like he always told her he would be if he died before she did, and that my brothers, Tommy and Stephen were waiting for her too. I asked her to let go and go to the light and find Jesus and at the same time, I was praying to Jesus, and the Blessed Mother to please just come and get mom and take her home with them. Finally, at 9:10 P.M. mom opened her eyes (she had not opened her eyes all day) looked up, made a little sound like she was gagging, let out her breath and was gone.

Mom is at peace now after a long, hard journey, and I’m happy she didn’t have to linger any longer than she did. She will be buried on Wednesday, March 16th, at 11:00 A.M. in a simple Catholic graveside service at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery, in the same grave my father, her husband of 57 years, is buried in.

When my father was alive he showered my mother in gold and diamonds, all of which she gave to various family members as her health declined. This gold cross and her wedding ring is all she had of her gold/diamonds at the time of her death and I brought them home with me after she passed.

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During the six years my mother lived in the care center, she bought cheep plastic costume jewelery and seemed to treasure them as much as she ever did her gold and diamonds. The next few pictures are examples of what I found in my mother’s little treasure box she kept in her night stand.

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She also had her eye glasses and two watches.

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She had the little shamrock neckless her sister Ellen sent her for St. Patrick’s day last year, and her plastic rosary the visiting Catholic service people gave her after someone stole her metal rosary my father bought her from Ireland.

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She loved this cheep plastic cross she bought at the craft store the care center sponsored from time to time.

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And she kept all her treasures in the silver tone metal box she got cookies in one year. She loved this box. I have all her little treasures in it and it now sits on my bedside shelf.

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Our daughter, Katie Decker, wanted to buy the outfit mom will be buried in. She picked out this lovely outfit for mom and I delivered it to the mortuary yesterday when we went to make the arrangements for mom. Thank you Katie Decker.

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I want to take this opportunity to thank all our family, extended family, and friends who have loved, visited, and supported my mother, and our family, as we helped her through her end of life process.

REST IN PEACE MOM.

A Perfect Day

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved horses. As a little girl, I dreamed of living on a ranch, and having horses of my own to ride whenever I wanted… But my life path was full of many different twists and turns to say the least, all of which I am grateful for. Because, every step I took, and everything I did in my life, made me the person I am today, and brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I didn’t have a horse when I was growing up, and as an adult, I couldn’t afford to own a horse, and still can’t… but that never dimmed my dream of living on a ranch with horses…

What I’ve learned is, when you keep your dreams alive, and never give up on them coming true, some way, some how.., God, the universe, and life… will lead you to your dreams… I know that because I’m living my dream life right now… and everyday is “a perfect day” for me now. Here is but one example of how I’m living my dream life after retirement…

Bill and I work/camp at San Tan Mountain Regional Reserve Park in Queen Creek Arizona for the winter months. This park has over 10,000 acres of land, and over 20 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails… We love it here, and we have made friends with all of our co-hosts, co-workers, and venders here at the park.

Last week, on one of our day’s off, we  started out our day with a “cowboy/cowgirl breakfast of potatoes, onions, peppers, sausage, and an over easy egg on top of a skillet breakfast… We don’t do this everyday, but we do enjoy this once a week…

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It was a picture perfect day here at San Tan Mountain Park as you can see by this picture below…

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Well, guess what…? San Tan Mountain Park is “THE PLACE” for horse folks, and they come in droves… The picture below shows the early arrivals… but let me tell you the lot you see will be FULL of horse trailers and horses on any given day and this is all happening just outside our motorhome fence that you can see… So lucky me… I am living my dream of living with horses (I may not own the “ranch”, but I live here from Oct-may) and that’s all I need….

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And, just to make life even sweeter…, Matt, the owner/operator of MD Ranch, is contracted with the park to provide trail rides for park customers… and guess what??? Matt told us whenever we want to go on a ride with him all we have to do is let him know…

We never want to take advantage of Matt’s generosity, but he often just asks us if we would like to go on a ride with him…. Well, if he asks, I don’t have to be asked twice… I’m getting my riding pants, and shoes on, and out the door as fast as I can… Which is what I did last week when Matt asked us to go on a two-hour ride with him…

These are Matt’s horses which are just outside our fenced compound on any given day… Did I mention I so love horses and wanted to live on a horse ranch….? Is this not the next best thing for that life dream…?

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This is Matt, getting his horses saddled up for the two-hour ride he invited us on… Matt is 39 yrs old and owns the MD Ranch that is contracted with San Tan Mountain Park throughout the winter/spring months. Then, he goes to Oregon where he has a ranch and many, many, more horses… Matt is VERY accomplished in his field, he has trail horses, rodeo horses, breeding horses etc. He also competes in events and has won many, many  times… We love our life here on the “dream” ranch… and we love Matt…!

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When Matt invites us to ride, he will never accept payment ($30-$50 plus per person an hour depending on the ride…) but we always give him a nice tip, and I scoop his horses poop around his trailer at the end of the day just so he doesn’t have to do that after a long day on the trails… I don’t mind one bit because I’m living my dream of having horses in my life…,and having the “perfect day” EVERYDAY…!

And the ending to the “perfect day”  for me, was, when a gentleman, our age( me and Bill),  said to me as I took his payment at the window with Bill standing behind me said, “did anyone ever tell you “your smile could melt Alaska..?

What a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Stay Tuned!

Stay Tuned!

Strange And Beautiful Sightings

I went to visit my mother today. I try to visit her on Tuesday’s now because there is musical entertainment in the activity room on Tuesday’s, and my mother seems to enjoy listening to the music provided mostly from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Her favorite entertainer is Karl Block. He is a very energetic entertainer that comes right down among the residents, holds their hands, and sings right into their eyes. He also provides different musical instruments like tambourines, and different small hand-held things that the residents can shake or rattle along to the beat of the music…

Today’s entertainer was Jim Bing. He plays guitar and tries hard to sing but I don’t think anyone ever told him he sings very much off-key… However, apparently that doesn’t seem to bother the residents, or they are so hard of hearing that they think he is on key… Either way, today was a good day for my mother as she enjoyed the music and even sang along with Jim.

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She even tapped her fingers on the table to the keep the beat of the music…

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All of that was a beautiful sight to see…

The next thing I noticed while sitting with my mother in the activity room, was a resident (little woman in blue shirt next to the wall of tiny windows), who never smiles, or even talks to anyone unless to lash out at them for one thing or another, get up and dance when one of the CNA’s went over and started dancing in front of her… It’s amazing how music transforms some of these residents who are otherwise thought “empty and void of emotions…” They danced through three songs together and that resident not only smiled, she was actually laughing… and that was another beautiful sight to see. 🙂

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On my way home from the care center, I just had to stop and take a picture of this cactus (in the center of the picture) in the desert just before you enter San Tan Mountain Reserve Park. I’ve been looking at this ever since we arrived here last October, but I just never stopped to get a picture of this strange and unusually shaped cactus, until today. I think it looks like a Sea Horse, if you take away the arms…, My husband, Bill/Bro, thinks it looks like a Giraffe. I’m interested in hearing what my readers think this cactus looks like to you..? What ever we think it looks like, or reminds us of… I think we can all agree, it is a strange-looking cactus right?

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Once I was home I noticed yet another strange sight when our cat, Carmen, started running back and forth, back and froth, from one end of our motorhome to the other as fast as she could. When she finally stopped running, and settled down, I went to see what she was doing and found her lying on our bed, belly up and feet in the air… I laughed thinking to myself, I’ve got to get a picture of this strange sight…

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I experienced another strange, and beautiful, event a couple of weeks ago while visiting my mother that struck me so profoundly that I couldn’t write about it until now, when out of the blue she said to me “I want you to know I really do love you, and maybe if I had done things differently with you when you were growing up, maybe you would have known that.” She said “do you believe me now? I have to be honest here and say that one of the things I always heard in our home when I was growing up and an elderly person that might have done something to my parents to upset them said they were sorry… my parents would say “I wonder if they really mean that or if they are just an old person trying to get into heaven now…” Those words ran through my mind when my mother asked me if I believe she loves me, but in that moment, I looked through my tear-filled eyes into hers, and accepted that as real, and told her “I believe it now mom, and in that instant I let go of past hurts…

A few months ago I had a similar experience with my father, even though he has been dead for 10 years this September. I gave my word to never fully write about what happened between my father and I, but let it be enough to say he broke a bond with me, and caused a hurt that changed me, and my family forever. He never said he was sorry, and never asked for forgiveness while he was alive. But he came to me in a dream a few months back, and without words spoken, in that dream… I accepted the apology he never gave me, and gave forgiveness he never asked for from me, and the next morning I woke up to this…

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And ended that day with this

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And that is a beautiful sight to see…and finally, I felt the peace I have been looking for…

Stay Tuned!

 

 

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