Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Our Christmas Letter

Greetings, family and friends!

It's hard to believe that 2014 is nearing an end, isn't it? I will admit that 2014 has been nearly as emotionally taxing as 2004 was (the year Jennifer was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and all the subsequent events that took place that year).

Our first major event of the year: both Tim and Jen moved out, within a week of each other, in April! Tim is only about 10 miles from us. He still works at Vines Brothers' here in town, where he's been employed for 6 years. He's able to stop in about once a week. He came to Thanksgiving dinner with us.

Jen, however, moved about 650 miles away, to live with my folks in Florida. She lives in the motorhome in their yard. She also took her cats, Milo and Mama Kitty, and her dog, Sophie, with her. She works at McDonalds; attends the church we attended when we lived there; and helps Grandma and Grandpa as much as possible.

I'll admit, I am very thankful that I can text them both every day (usually evening and morning, just to tell them hi and I love them).

In July, for Tim's vacation, we made a trip to Florida. Tim took a tent, and camped in my folks' yard. Then in August, my siblings and I and our families got together with my folks in Texas to celebrate my mom's 80th birthday. It was the first time we'd all gotten together in years (probably either 13 or 17 years). It was a very special and enjoyable time.

On September 25 I received a phone call from Mom. She told me Dad had been taken to Seven Rivers Medical Center ER, admitted to ICU with acute pancreatitis. Since Mom doesn't drive anymore, and Jen has her job, the boys and I drove down on September 29, prepared to stay about a month, if need-be.

Dad was in such intense pain; they gave him extreme pain meds. Apparently they had him on high-dosage morphine, which his system could not handle. He began hallucinating, refusing meds, food and liquids, treatment of any kind. In addition to pancreatitis, he had esophogitis, bronchitis, I think gastritis, and his kidneys were shutting down.

On October 10, he informed Mom he no longer wished to live, and asked to be moved to hospice. Two days later, he was transfered. My brothers and one of my nieces, and hubby and Tim, arrived that night. On the fourteenth, we pretty much said our good-byes. It was a grueling, emotionally-draining day. Late in the day on the sixteenth, my younger brother asked Dad one more time if this was what he really wanted (to be in hospice), or if he wanted to go back to hospital. Dad said, "Hospital."

Late that night he was transferred to Shands, in Gainesville. On the eighteenth, my brothers, hubby, and Tim, all headed home. And the hospital began dialysis on my dad. All together, I believe they did four rounds of dialysis. With nearly-daily visits to see Dad, plus other errands, etc., we put a lot of miles on my van! Whew!

On November 5, Dad was finally transferred to Life Care Center. Mom and I chose this rehab center for a couple of reasons: First, it has a warm, inviting atmosphere. It is bright and airy. Second, a friend of mine is a physical therapist there.

Because the boys had orthodontist appointments scheduled (and we had no warm clothes with us!), we drove back home to Mississippi on November 16. Let me tell you, my bed sure felt good!! That was a long, grueling, seven weeks! Best news is, Dad was finally sent home from rehab on December 8. What a great way to celebrate Botanist Boy's 15th birthday!

Admittedly, the past couple months have been challenging to keep up in homeschooling! And there is a possibility we (the boys and I) will be making a move (for at least a long-term temporary situation) to Florida. We pray it can become permanent. This house in Mississippi would need to sell, and hubby would need to find a job in Florida; and of course we'd need a house in Florida in which to live. Frankly, hubby doesn't want to move from this area until his daughter has graduated from high school (she's a junior this year). Yet, I feel an urgency to live near my folks, to help them as needed. Praying for God's will to be done, in His time.

This year has taught me, once again, just how fragile life is; how precious each moment with our loved ones is. I want to hug my family a little closer.

We can also see, more and more, the signs of how near Jesus' return is growing. I pray each of my loved ones is ready for that day, because I want each of you around, for eternity. May we always make Jesus first and last and best in our hearts.

Revelation 22-
"12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
 "14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
"20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
"21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."

Wishing you each a Merry Christmas, and blessed New Year.

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