A Valentine Letter to My Parents

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am writing this letter on Valentine’s Day,  since it is the day we celebrate love.  I miss you both so very much, but know that you are celebrating this day of hearts and flowers with your loved ones in heaven.

Dad, it has been a long time since I saw your brown eyes, your grin that stretched from ear to ear, and heard your voice saying, ” How you doing kid!”   As I write this, I remember the day you came into my life. You accepted me as your little girl even before you asked my mother to marry you. When Donna, Emma and Lee came along, I was still your little girl.  You raised us all the same way without showing partiality. The rules applied to all four of us, and so did the consequences.

Although, we didn’t always hear, “I love you,” we knew the depth of your love by your everyday smile and the things you did for us.

I want to thank you for working so hard for us, even when your health was not the best. I remember the day, you frightened me beyond words, as I ironed in the dining room of our old farm house. You were sleeping on the sofa in the living room. When all of a sudden, I heard a noise and looked up. You were shaking; shaking so violently that you shook your sock off  one foot. I remember screaming for Mom, who came running and between the two of us, we did what he had to do. I was crying when you came out of your seizure. I thought we were going to lose you.  I remember thanking God for saving my dad.

I want to thank you for instilling in me the love of reading   I remember seeing you sitting comfortably in your chair and enjoying your Lonesome Dove stories. You loved them.  Thank you also, for always expecting respect, expecting us to do what we were told, and expecting us to always do our best.  I will get right back to you, Dad, but need to speak to Mom right now. Hope I can get through this part without crying my eyes out.  I think I need to get the tissues.

Mom, you took your journey to heaven, a little over two years ago, and  I miss you more than words can say. I want to thank you for not giving me up as a baby. I admire that you didn’t marry my biological father  because of the uncertainly of his love.

Thank you for working so hard and always providing me with a home. I know in my heart that giving birth to me in 1948, and being single was not easy. I am so grateful for the sacrifices you made for me.  Thank you for falling in love with my dad, Lee. He was exactly the right man for you and the right father for me.  I have so many wonderful memories of you that I could be writing for a month, so I will move on to the three gifts that I am still enjoy every day.

Donna, Emma and Lee are those gifts. I cherish them each and everyday. We love each other so much, and are always willing to step up and help when one of us needs a hand.  We are not jealous of each other, but encourage one another in whatever we are doing.  I must admit, I have been  told that since your passing, I have become the “mother hen” looking after my siblings.  You taught me well Mom. My love for them is deep and always will be.  Donna had a heart attack in December, but is doing well. .  However, this summer she will need a hip replacement. Her perseverance simply amazes me. Emma will soon have a cataract removed. She looks good Mom! Emma has lost a lot of weight  and is taking care of her health. Lee is working hard and loving his granddaughters. He still has his hearty laugh and genuinely loves life. He plays your country CD’S   everyday on his way to work. Can you hear the music Mom?   Are you singing along?

Mom and Dad…..

The hardest thing  I ever had to do was watch as illnesses took over your lives. I watched Dad go from a robust man who loved life, to a man who needed: extended stays in nursing homes, visiting nurses, a wheelchair, longer stays in bed, then finally death. My heart broke that day, but I knew you were on a new journey to a beautiful place where there is no pain, suffering or tears.

Mom, we thought we would loose you when you turned eighty years of age, but your determination, sheer love of life, and your love for your family kept you going.  We were happy that God gave us six and one half years longer to see your sparkling blue eyes, hear your spicy, silly jokes, listen to you play your harmonica, and take you out to do errands, which always ended up with lunch.

It was an honor to take care of you and be with you for the last seven weeks of your life. Mom, I could not have done it without the help and support of Donna, Emma and Lee. I know angels were gathered around your bed waiting for God to whisper your name. I believe that Dad was nearby waiting for you. When God whispered in your ear, Dad held out his hand and touched you and together, you made your way to a beautiful new home. Someday we will all be together, until then,  I will  do my best to take care of everyone. Happy Valentine’s Day to my precious parents.

Your loving daughter

My heartfelt feelings………

Dear readers, I wrote this letter to my parents for a several reasons. One: I really, really miss them. Two: They were the driving force that shaped me into the woman I am today. Three: They taught me to how love, how to persevere, how to reach out to others, how to forgive, and how to believe in myself.

It is my hope that all will appreciate their parents in everyway, and honor them with respect and love. All I ever wanted was for Mom and Dad to be happy and they were.

When we honor our parents, we honor God………











What My Teapot Taught Me

This is a story about a teapot. It is not a teapot to boil water for a nice cup of hot tea; or a decorative; sit on the shelf teapot. It is a beautiful pink teapot, not a bright pink, or a fuchsia,  but more of a dusty rose. My teapot has a very old fashion look with little round openings below a flower design, that circles the neck of the pot. This special teapot is electric, with a small bulb, that warms the little dish, holding a square shaped piece of wax. As the wax melts, it fills the air with the most delicious scent that tantalizes you into thinking about sugar cookies.


I light the teapot every night. The glow from the openings actually gives off a light that shines in many directions. It warms my heart to see the little tiny rays circling around the pot, bringing light where there was darkness.

I am not judging……..

Each day, as I read my newspaper, watch the news on the television and listen to the radio, I am reminded, how different people are today.  Although there are many kind and loving people, there seems to be  just as many, who appear to be lost. I am baffled at the hate some folks have in their hearts.

I  just do not understand……..

I struggle with the lack of respect and empathy towards anyone who is different.  It breaks my heart when children and adults are bullied to the point, where the individual debates suicide. Elder abuse is increasing. How sad for those older men and women made to endure pain and humiliation.  Tears flow from my eyes, when I think of the cruelty towards animals, that happens each, and everyday.  I  could go on and on with the sorrow that so many folks feel on a daily basis, but I think I will end, allowing you to ponder what tugs at your heart.

My teapot……..

When I close my eyes, I envision the teapot symbolizing each one of us. The light from inside, filters outside the little holes, lighting up an area surrounding the teapot. I believe the light, represents our heart. The warmth of the light resembles love. A love we can share with all we meet on a daily basis. This love continues to cultivate our consciousness, which hopefully leads to knowing right from wrong. The light stays with us throughout our lives, enabling us to form friendships, fall in love, marry and have children,  work, play, grow old, and pass on with a sense, that we somehow made a difference. I am not saying, that life is always easy, in fact at times it can be down right tough! But if your light is strong, it will help to weather whatever comes your way.  Your light is like a beacon, always loving, when you don’t feel like loving, always ready to help those you may or may not feel like helping, but help anyway.  The warmth of love instills selflessness.  Sometimes, we may struggle with making choices, but love usually leads us to do what is right.

Those who are lost…….

Before I turn on the teapot, the holes are dark. The  darkness represents those folks who have lost their way for many reasons: family, drugs, gangs, whatever, the circumstance.  Maybe at some point, the light radiated from them, and maybe it did not. Maybe along the way the hurt was too much too bear, and the darkness filled the space where the light shone.  The darkness becomes their beacon, and love struggles to get through.  Where light shines with hope,  darkness  grows with discontent, hate, selfishness, and greed. Through the darkness, the lost folks see no light, even though it is always present. Some feel powerful in the darkness, some build walls, allowing very few people in. Most who are lost are lonely, and deep in my heart, a part of me believes they want to be loved.  When you see someone who is lost, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?


The definition of hope is : a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.  I believe that everyone has the light in them, some more than others, some with just a hint, some still searching. My desire is that those lost folks will find hope someday. That they will shine, like the illuminating light from my teapot.  Those that break the law, hurt someone, or take a life need to face the consequences for the  choices they have made, however, I will always pray that they will find the light that just might start a change. Those that are lost because of mental illness, need our support, love and encouragement to help find the light.

My heartfelt wishes…….

There will always be people who allow their light to shine, through loving, helping and encouraging, and caring for whomever they meet.  It is my hope that you will continue to shine, making a difference wherever you go. Maybe, if more and more people reach out to help others in need, smile a little more, and welcome those we do not know,  the light might just spread a little farther.  We can only try and hope.























Those Who Serve, Those Who Wait

On Saturday, February 6th, my husband and I traveled to the Naval Academy with my daughter, her husband and her father in-law.  We were on our way to watch my grandson, Midshipman Christian Correale compete against Army in gymnastics.

Now, I could write about how beautiful the academy is, how Navy beat Army, and how my grandson scored his personal best on the parallel bars and rings; but I’m not.

Tonight, I choose to write about the parents of these wonderful young men and women, who chose to serve their country, whether through the academy or enlisting in one of the military branches.

My pleasure and more…….

It has been my pleasure to visit both the Naval Academy and West Point. I also have many friends who have a son or daughter serving at home or abroad. My oldest son,enlisted right out of high school in the eighties, as well. Whenever I travel, and see a man or woman, regardless of age, dressed in uniform, I always try to strike up a conversation. It is important to let them know how much I appreciate what they do not only for me, but for all of us.

Whether I am at a military football game, gymnastic meet, or talking with parents,  who have a son or daughter serving, I am always in awe of the tremendous love and pride they feel for their loved ones.  It is written on their faces, and heard through their beautiful words of love.

These amazing parents worry about their sons and daughters everyday, but continue to support them through letters, filled with what is happening at home, encouragement, and somewhere within the body of words, telling them how proud they are of their accomplishments.

They send packages filled with home baked cookies, candy bars and anything their soldiers need. Many wait for phone calls and some have the privilege of face time or skyping.  Communication is the key to helping families cope with missing each other.

I could go on and on about the feelings parents experience, the fear they feel and the patience they practice everyday waiting to hear, ” I am coming home!”

One mother shared with me that she starts her day with a prayer for her daughter and all those who are serving. The prayer continues throughout the day and ends when she climbs into bed.  This precious mother touched my heart.

A father’s prayer……………

It was dark when we started  home from the Naval Academy. Before we left the yard, my son in-law, pulled over and got out of the SUV. I thought maybe the hatch opened but instead, I saw him walk over to the water. My daughter shared that on every visit, and before they leave, this sweet wonderful father sends time in prayer. He prays for his military sons. He prays for all those young men and women at the Academy, and he prays for peace.  I must admit, tears meandered down my cheeks.

My heartfelt feelings……

As I finish this blog, or story as I like to call it, my heart is full of gratitude for the men and women who are serving our great country. I also think of the thousands and thousands who have served over the years.  There is,and never will be,enough ways to say “Thank You” for the sacrifices these men and women have made and will continue to make.  Because of their sacrifices,  I have hope for the future. A future filled with peace.

One more thing….

Please say a prayer for our military men and women and their families…

Remember when we reach out to others, we help ourselves too.

















My Life with Barrett’s Esophagus

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with Barrett’s Esophagus, Barrett’s for short.  I was suffering from a daily upset stomach, and thought I might have an ulcer.  I also suffered from bouts of heartburn.  One night, the heartburn was so terrific, I thought I would vomit.  Of course, being stubborn, I just took more antacids.  It was not unusual for me to eat, eight to ten antacids, or more,  four to five days a week.

My family and friends, gave me advice on how to “fix” the problem.  I tried eating a soft bland diet, drinking more milk, raising the head of my bed, and even, sitting up in my recliner to sleep. Nothing worked; in fact, the heartburn got worse.  The last straw came, when I could not drink a glass of water, without getting extreme heartburn.  I knew I had to stop being stubborn and get to the bottom of the problem.

The next day, I was telling our school secretary about the heartburn, and my stomach discomfort.  She told me about a wonderful gastroenterologist, her husband, Paul, was seeing for digestive issues.  The more I listened, the more I wanted to  learn about this doctor.  So, after doing some research, and talking to my family doctor, I gave his practice a call and set up an appointment.

The first appointment was to meet with him, discuss the problem, and make a plan.  He suggested an endoscopy to help with the diagnosis.  Within a week, I walked through the doors of the Twin Rivers Endoscopy Center, quite anxious, but, determined to feel better. I was tired of not feeling well. I was tired of relying on antacids to stop the heartburn.  I was tired from a lack of a good night’s rest.

Everyone was wonderful. They calmed my jitters. Soon I was ready to go into the procedure room.  The doctor came in and held my hand, he asked me where I wanted to go in my dreams, I told him, I wanted to be with my students.  That was the last thing I remembered, until I woke up in the recovery room.

The doctor discovered……..

The doctor discovered that I had a small hiatal hernia, gastroesophageal reflux  disease (GERD), and three spots on my esophagus. He biopsied the spots. The doctor told me it could possibly be Barrett’s.  I would have to wait seven to ten days  for the biopsy report.  He sent me home with a prescription for Pantoprazole which I take daily. ( This medicine, helps to block the acid from getting to the esophagus)

The news I did not want to hear………..

Eight days after my procedure, I received a phone call, that I indeed, had Barrett’s. My heart sank. Barrett’s is a precancerous condition.  Cancer was pretty prevalent on my mother’s side of the family.  I must admit, it was a little unnerving. But it also made me more determine to learn all I could about this condition.  Another visit to the doctor’s to learn what I had to do to help myself.  I left with oodles of information and encouragement from the nurses. As I walked out the door, I made a decision, that I would not be defeated by Barrett’s

About Barrett’s……….

Barrett’s Esophagus happens when there is a change in the lining of the esophagus very near the stomach.  Acid reflux ( GERD) is the reason for the change.  Although Barrett’s is a precancerous condition, it is not cancer.  However, if left unattended, it could possibly lead to cancer at some point.

Acid Reflux Symptoms…..

Heartburn, a sour taste in your mouth, and belching ( for me it was a lot of belching!) These symptoms get worse after eating, lying down, and believe it or not, bending over.

Causes of GERD……….

When the muscle that prevents the opening between the stomach and the esophagus weakens.  The weakening of the muscle can be caused by some medications, food, other medical issues like a hiatal hernia, smoking, and  weight problems.

My Barrett’s was found while looking for another suspected health issue. In most cases, that is how it is discovered and diagnosed.

Then and now…….

After the diagnosis of Barrett’s, I knew that I would need to change my lifestyle; and that I did.  I never smoked; a plus for me. However, I must stay away from those who do smoke. Smoke could irritate the lining of the esophagus.  Changing my diet and losing weight has helped with my Barrett’s. I have lost thirty six pounds to date.  Avoiding foods that cause GERD is important such as high- fat foods and chocolate ( yes, I said chocolate) along with alcohol. I must say, I still eat chocolate occasionally, and enjoy a glass of wine from time to time.  Please find time to exercise. It not only helps with any stress you might have, but will also help with GERD symptoms.

Very important…….

Never, Ever miss yearly appointments!

I have had nine endoscopies. Endoscopies are the only way the doctor can keep a check on your esophagus.  Endoscopies do not hurt. So please, if you have been diagnosed with Barrett’s, always keep those endoscopy appointments.

My doctor………………….

My doctor’s name is  Dr. Shanker Mukherjee. He is wonderful! Dr. Mukherjee has a very nice bedside manner.  He always answers any questions I might have, and is never too busy to listen to me.  I would highly recommend him if you are having any stomach or digestive issues.

My heartfelt feelings…….

Dear readers, I had my ninth endoscopy on December 28, 2015.  Seven days later, I received my call. The biopsy revealed no knew spots and no change on the three spots that reside on my esophagus.  “No Change” is the answer, I wait for.

Since being diagnosed, my faith has deepened and I am very grateful for everyday, every month and every year I have.  Each morning starts with a prayer and being thankful for the little things in life. Each night ends the same way.  Please if you have any of the GERD symptoms, see your doctor.  Please be proactive with your health.  Life is precious, live it to the fullest!

















February, A Month to Love

February is one of my favorite months of the year.  I love Valentine’s Day. I love sending cards to my family and friends and dipping pretzels in dark chocolate for special surprises.  I love seeing men, women, teens, and children buying beautiful flowers for their loved ones. I love the smiles on the faces of husbands and wives, enjoying a delicious dinner.

I love walking into a nursing home with its hallways and doorways, decorated with red and pink hearts. My heart soars when I see the happiness it brings the residents and all those families and friends who visit.  I love seeing school children, decorating a bag or a box, and proudly depositing a card into each one. I love their expressions and laughter at the end of the school day, as they read each card and giggle.

I am in love with love. Everything about it.  Valentine’s Day and every day of the year.

The other side of the coin…..

My heart aches for the number of lonely folks out there whether it is Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year.  I see them when helping at the homeless shelter. I see seniors that are missing their families who have passed on to heaven. I see it in the wife who sits by her husband in the hospital, with no one to lean on.  I see it in the quiet child who has a difficult time making friends.  All of these folks knew love, gave love, received love, and still need love.

My heartfelt feelings………

Dear readers, I hope that this Valentine’s Day and every day, we will all find a way to let other’s know we love them.  Make a phone call, send a card to someone you have not seen in a long time, make a meal for a senior, who lives alone,  bake cookies, or make up little plates filled with goodies, and add a note, wishing them a great day.  You will see the love in their eyes, and I know your heart will sing.

Visit a homeless shelter and spend time just getting to know the residents. You will be surprised by how loving and warm they are.  Volunteer at a hospital or Hospice and extend your love to those losing their loved ones.  Send cards and letters to our brave men and women serving in our armed services.  Last but not least, smile at those you pass in the store, on a walk, anywhere.  Your smile just might be what they need.  When we spread love, we get love in return.  Be someone’s angel and make a difference. You will be so happy you did!

Wishing everyone a very Happy Valentine’s Day!



Friday, A Day of Lessons

Today is Sunday.  The weather is sunny and slightly spring-like.  The snow is melting, and I am enjoying every minute of it.  As I reflect, on the days leading up to this glorious afternoon, Friday stands out as a day of lessons.

It started out like any other day: morning prayers, coffee and breakfast, and catching up on my reading.  But, little did I know what was in store for me, just a few hours later.

It all started two years ago when I was asked to help at a funeral luncheon.  Of course, I said yes, and must admit, it was gratifying. In fact, so rewarding, I continued, always ready to answer, yes.  I felt somehow, we ladies, were helping the families by having everything prepared for them, after the sadness of burying their loved one.

Sometimes I knew the family, and sometimes I did not. Sometimes the funeral service was held at our church, and sometimes it was not.


Another luncheon to prepare for, another family grieving the loss of a loved one. Another family I did not know.

On this day, the service was held in our church.  We worked hard to get everything just right, for those joining us for lunch. When we are satisfied with our work, the ladies asked if I wanted to go up to the service but, I was unsure if I should since I did not know the family. But, my dear friends said it would be okay.

I was blind………

I did not know this beautiful older woman who now resides in heaven. I did not know her family, or what she was like when I sat down in the pew. I did not know her favorite things to do, or her love for her family, as I watched her casket being pushed down the aisle, as the organist played a familiar hymn. I did know how many friends this dear sweet woman had, and the difference she made in their lives.  I  did not know how her influence helped shape her granddaughter into the young woman she had become.  I did not know she had three daughters who loved her dearly. I did not know that her husband walked with a walker, and how much he would miss the loving hands that helped him for so many years.

But now I see………

After listening to our pastor talk about this sweet woman, I learned what made her so special. I learned about her love for her family, her love of cooking, her beautiful needlework, and how much she loved teaching Sunday School. Looking around the church, I learned how many people loved her. I learned just how much her granddaughter loved, and admired her grandmother, by the loving way she spoke of all the things they had done together.  I learned how sad her husband was, grieving for his wife of many years.  I learned how much her daughters loved her by the tears on their face.

Hello dear friend…….

As I sat and listened to the beautiful message about this particular angel, I formed a picture in my mind. I could see her cooking, taking care of her friends, always being there for her family, working with her Sunday School students, taking care of her husband, and knitting her beautiful blankets.  When we sang two of her favorite hymns, I could almost hear singing along, smiling her warm smile, and nodding her head at a friend.  I did not know her when I walked into the Sanctuary but left with a new friend in my heart

My heartfelt feelings……

My dear readers, I hope that we will reach out to those who have lost a loved one and be a comfort to them. That we love our families with a passion and help all those in need.  My question to you is: How would you like to be remembered by your family and friends?  My response to that question is: I would like to be remembered as a loving person who genuinely cares for everyone I met.











The Spoon Thief

Last summer, I took a spoon from my daughter’s kitchen. Yes, I am a spoon thief. The spoon was not a plastic spoon, or a measuring spoon, but a very nice stainless steel spoon with a fully designed handle.   I know that you, dear reader, must be thinking, “Big deal, it’s only a spoon!” But it is my hope, that you might change your mind after reading the whole story.  First, I have to give you a little background which will help you understand, why I did what I did.

My daughter, Laurie and her husband, Lew are very busy. Laurie has her own business and Lew is a wonderful principal in an elementary school. They have two sons that they adore.  My oldest grandson, was commissioned from the Naval Academy in May and is now stationed in Pensacola, Florida. He is in flight school. Their youngest son, is a Plebe at the Academy where he is also on the Men’s Gymnastic Team.  ( just grandma bragging)

Before both boys entered the military, they were involved in sports; not just one sport but several.  Although Laurie and her family live about eighty five miles from my home, it has been very difficult planning visits on both sides. They have full plates during the week, and travel most weekends to the Academy.  I am so proud of them and their dedication to their sons. However, I missed them all dearly; especially my daughter.

Setting for the idea…..

It is June of 2015, Christian is graduating from high school. My husband and I drive out to Harrisburg. We are late, due to traffic. We gobble pizza; then head out to the graduation ceremony. Before we leave, I walk through the rooms not touching anything, just checking out things; getting ideas. When we returned, I stood in the kitchen and watched my daughter putting things away and bingo, like the light bulb that goes on. I knew actually what I would take.

Planning out the caper……

It is Graduation Party day! My husband drives and I plot.  Am I sure this is the item I want? How will I take it? What will I do if someone sees me?  The questions played over and over, like one of my favorite Ricky Nelson songs.  Since I have never taken anything before, a little guilt was starting to set in. I had to be brave. I could do it!

Time is ticking……

We arrive at my daughter’s house.  Since we are a little early, Laurie makes me a cup of delicious tea. Here it comes; the mug with the hot steaming tea, sugar, milk and the spoon. It was right in front of me! I had to play it cool; didn’t want anyone to know how badly I wanted the spoon.  So, I drank my tea slowly in hopes that my daughter would go outside to welcome her guests.  Within ten minutes, Laurie went outside. I was alone. I quickly got up, hurried to the sink, rinsed the spoon, wiped it dry and put it in my purse. Mission accomplished!

I must say, I felt a little guilty that day. After all, I raised my children not to take things that did not belong to them.  But I needed the spoon; really needed it.

The meaning of the spoon…

The spoon has a new home. It has a special place in my silverware drawer where I can easily get to it. Each morning when I pour my coffee, and add the milk and sugar, I smile at the anticipation of getting the spoon and stirring my breakfast drink. It seems as I stir, sweet memories fill my head with so many wonderful things that I have shared, over the years with Laurie. When I dip the spoon into my cereal bowl, I can almost hear a little girl giggling with her brothers, and baby sister, and my heart soars.  The spoon is my  connection with Laurie and her family.  They use their spoons everyday, probably around the same time I use mine.  Although I would love to see my daughter  every week, I know that she needs to do what she does best, and that is to be the best wife and mother, she can be.  Laurie and I try to talk at least once a week, and each morning I receive a, ” Good Morning Mom” text from her. I love those little messages.  But the spoon goes even deeper. Just the sight of it makes me feel that I am sitting at her kitchen table looking in her eyes and listening to her telling me what is new.  It is priceless.

My heartfelt feelings…..

I am grateful for my family. I love and thank God everyday for their good health and accomplishments.

Maybe I should not have taken that spoon, but I don’t regret it!

Maybe I will start plotting to take a fork to go with the spoon.

What connects you to your family?










The Magic of a Bowl of Soup

This is a story about soup: rich and creamy, chicken and noodles, meat and vegetables, or any recipe you like.  Soup warms our bodies, and according to mothers everywhere,  heals whatever ails us.  Soup can be homemade or made by opening a can. It can be made in a large pot or in a bowl in the microwave oven. It is delicious when served with warm crusty bread or crackers.  I could go on and on how delightful soup is, and how much I like making it, but there is more to a bowl of soup then just the ingredients, pots, how we cook it, and how we eat it.   Although the above has a lot of merits; there is more to know about soup. And how it can change the lives of others.

The Magic of a Bowl of Soup…….

I love people of all ages, but am especially fond of seniors, those less fortunate of any age, and children.  My husband always tells me that I care about everyone. Maybe he is right.  I only know that if I can help someone, I will.

Did you ever realize how some folks who are in need, never ask for anything?  They struggle silently whether their need is financial or health-related.  They are proud and would not think of asking for help. I  have two neighbors that fit that description. So whenever I make soup,  I make sure I prepare twice the amount.  I think they feel better about accepting the soup when, I tell them that I made way too much, and my husband and I would never be able to finish it.

I feel good as I walk home knowing that they have something hot to eat. Soon, the phone rings and rounds of, ” The soup was great! You didn’t have to do this, but we are glad you did. I wish I could repay you; maybe someday, when things get better.” Of course, I would never expect anything in return.

I am not telling you this story to brag about my soup-making skills.  I am sharing in hopes, that you will reach out to those in need, whether they are your neighbors, residents in a homeless shelter, wounded warriors, or a struggling family member.

The Magic of a Bowl of Soup is pure and simple. It is love; it is caring and sharing, and It is reaching out to others.    So make a pot of soup, and pass the Magic along, for when we help others, we truly help ourselves.

A Beacon of Perseverance Gratitude and Love

My sister, Donna, is a one of a kind. She not only has a remarkable memory, but knows every family member’s name, their birthday, wedding anniversary, their spouses and children’s names, and when they graduated from school. She is the one that greets each person at our family reunion by their first name, as my brother, Lee, my sister, Emma, and I just say, “Hello,” and smile.  I must mention that our family is well over four hundred strong with at least one hundred or more attending our annual reunion.

She is our go-to gal when we remember something significant that happened in the past but just can’t pull out the date.  As I am getting older, I find myself calling her quite frequently for dates of things, I should remember. Donna actually wrote the birthdays, wedding anniversaries, graduation dates and whatever date she thought I would need in a lovely datebook, which I can’t seem to find.   She is amazing!

This story is not just about my sister’s memory, it’s much more than that. It is about a woman with a big heart, who cares about each person she meets. It is about the birthday cards she sends out to immediate family and close friends. It is about the call she makes when someone is sick, and the encouragement she gives. My sister always ends her calls with,  “Call me if you need anything.”

Donna didn’t always have a comfortable life. When she was six years old, she had a severe hip injury and had to wear a brace for three and one-half years. I remember it well. Donna had to put her leg down through two heavy metal pieces attached to a not so nice looking shoe. The top of the brace went partway around the side of her hip. She had to keep the pair on from the time she got out of bed until it was time for dreamland again. Dad had to carry her to bed each and every night.  My younger sister would cry because the brace was so bulky for such a tiny girl to have to maneuver for several hours a day.  But she persevered and for the most part, was her happy-go-lucky self.  I was thirteen when she wore her brace and remembered how sad I felt for this precious sister of mine.

My sister married and had two sons. She also had several stepchildren who called her Mom, although they did not live with her.  There is a lot I could write about in this part of my story, but out of respect for my sister’s late husband and sons, I will just say that once again, she persevered.

Donna lived back a dirt lane, very close to our parent’s home. When our father became very ill, she was there. In fact, she was there every day, and for that, I will always be grateful.  Dad’s passing was hard on all of us, especially Donna.

About ten years ago, I noticed my sister had put on a considerable amount of weight. I also saw that her stomach was taking on a different shape. Whenever I asked her about it, she would say she was alright, and change the subject.  I continued to ask until she told me that she did not feel well, but could not go to a specialist because of her inadequate insurance. This was not acceptable to me. I thought long and hard about her situation, and one night, I took her needs into my own hands.  After my husband went to bed, I emailed three local hospitals.  I used the ” Contact Us” box and poured my heart out. As I clicked the send button, I wasn’t sure if I would even get a reply. I just had to try. Much to my surprise, Lehigh Valley Hospital responded to my plea and gave me the best news of the day. They wanted to help my sister and that they did. It turned out that Donna had a hernia the size of a beach ball, and all her intestines were inside. A long story short, Donna had a complicated operation, and it was a success.  We were all thankful for the team of doctors who helped Donna.

Donna’s husband was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years later. My sweet sister stayed by his side until his dying day.

A few years later, Donna fell in love and married a wonderful man who treats her like a queen. They live very close to me in a small ranch that they bought;  I love it.

December 11, 2015, my sweet sister had a heart attack, and now the owner of three stents.  Donna attends Cardiology Rehabilitation three times a week. Although my sister is still tired, she is doing well.  Today, I had to pick her up after her class. I saw first hand how hard she was working.  Three ladies came up to me and asked if I was her sister. I replied, “Yes,” as they continued to tell me how sweet she is, and how much they like her.  I just smiled.

My sister has taught me so many things. She is my beacon. Her love for others, her perseverance, and her gratitude for everything, whether big or small, shines in the hearts, of everyone she meets. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for the woman, my sister, who touches everyone’s heart.  She deserves the best that life has to offer. They say, how we treat other’s comes back to us. If that is the case, the love that Donna gives will come back a thousandfold.

So, dear readers, who are you grateful for today? Who shines in your heart?

Suicide Awareness

I have been wanting to write about this growing epidemic for several days but did not know where to start.  So bear with me, as I attempt to share my feelings.

As I listen to the news, read newspaper articles, and talk to those who have lost a loved one through suicide, or attempted suicide, I am reminded that some children, teenagers, adults, middle age, and seniors are at significant risk. Some folks may exhibit signs of needing help, and some hide their feelings, leaving family and friends to wonder what they missed.

These beautiful souls who feel they have nothing to live for, or see no way out, just want the pain to stop.  I find myself often thinking about what circumstances these folks find themselves in, that leads to their final decision.

Bullying, illness, drugs, and alcohol, physical and mental abuse, feeling of failing, and letting family and friends down, mental illness, and not feeling they fit in, are just a few on a list of many causes.

So dear readers, how can each one of us make a difference? How can we reach out to a loved one or a friend who is struggling?  I know what I plan on doing. First, I want my friends and family to know how much I love them; and that my love is unconditional.  Secondly,  I want them to know that I will always be there for them.  Importantly,  I want them to know that I will always listen to them and help them with whatever I can, but will not enable them.

I believe all folks who need professional help should be able to receive it, regardless if they have insurance or not.  It is also essential that the negative record so many hear daily, be changed to positive thoughts. My list could go on and on!

These are my thoughts, my heartfelt feelings.

Now for my personal story:

Five months ago, my precious grandson attempted suicide not once but twice. The second time, he jumped 90 feet off a local bridge. He survived with a broken tailbone and several cuts, scratches, and bruises. Although he is getting the help he needs, this sweet, blue-eyed young man, has a long road ahead. He has been diagnosed with bipolar and is on medicine, along with counseling. He will be dealing and learning to manage his mental illness for the rest of his life.

While my grandson was in the hospital, he expressed the desire to help others. And that is what we are doing. He helped and will continue to help serve meals at our local homeless shelter.  I believe it is necessary that my grandson knows and understands that when we help others, we help ourselves.

 He is working and taking one day at a time. His girlfriend has been a great support to him. As well as his parents.  Although he is improving, he experiences ups and downs, which is part of the bipolar. I know one thing to be true, I will never give up on my sweet blue-eyed grandson.

My message to you:  Reach out and make a difference in someone’s life for when we help others, we truly help ourselves.