Second Update

Mary Kathryn & dogs

Surely she will get a break soon!

Mary Kathryn called to alert me that she had been awake since 3am with a pain in her arm and shoulder. She said she was afraid of a clot in the area where the picc line had been inserted. She had called her doctor and spoken with the nurse who told her to go once again to Baptist ER.  They worked her in for an ultra-sound.

After the test, she was sent to the doctor’s office. It is indeed a clot. Luckily her insurance allowed her to treat it as outpatient. She is giving herself injections of Lovenox twice daily and will take Coumadin for three months when she will have another ultrasound. She will also have her blood levels tested twice weekly for now.

Mary Kathryn told me she is still having a deep pain, and the only relief she gets is from the heating pad.

When I talked with her, she was at the Coldwell Banker Rector Phillips Morse office dealing with a home inspection. Working helps keep the focus off herself and concentrate on doing something positive for others.

She was warned that the clot could break off and travel to her lung. When she was told that another blockage could occur, she commented that she didn’t choose to live in fear – she is handling this in the same way.

Sometimes the strongest ones among us are the ones who smile through silent pain....




Zach and Zoe | Mary Lee writes
Mary Kathryn came to Jonesboro to celebrate the birthday of a friend. We were both invited to the party and had such a good time, though she admitted later that pain in her abdomen was a concern. The next morning she said she had a little pain but thought/hoped it would go away. She left to go back to Little Rock as she had an appointment to show houses. At Cabot, she realized the pain was so bad she would have to go to the ER and began calling for a Realtor to stand in for her.

When she arrived home, she called a dear friend who arranged a ride to the hospital for her. Then she called me at 1:35. Somehow, as a mother does, I showered and dressed, arranged a dog sitter, packed and, when I backed out of the driveway, I glanced at the clock. It showed 2:20. I felt it had been hours since her call.

When I arrived at the Baptist Hospital ER, I went directly to her space. A friend was there with her, such a comfort. She had already had the awful NG tube inserted as the CT scan showed a blockage.

Mary Kathryn was then taken to a room on the kidney wing, reuniting with several of the nurses she had known since the transplant surgery and who had seen her though the subsequent hospitalizations. It was heartwarming to witness how much they care for her, and I knew then that she would be in good hands. Her transplant surgeon was on call and the transplant nephrologist was available at all times to monitor her precious kidney, the gift of Steve Holt.

I imagine one reason they all love her is the welcoming smile she gives them, cracking a joke through the pain of the tube, the abdominal pain, and the feeling of starvation, having had not even a piece of ice for 5 1/2 days.

Mary Kathryn never exhibits a “poor me” attitude but instead she shows an acceptance that she will get through this “one more thing.” When I commented on her bravery at the height of her pain, she answered, “What choice do I have?”

She was dismissed late on Thursday and on Saturday kept her commitment to talk with ALS caregivers as the lead speaker. When you have the chance, look at her Life Coach Arkansas page on Facebook in case you know of someone in need of referral. And – if you are buying or selling a home – you can contact her as a Realtor with CBRPM.

I have been away from any writing for the past ten days as I just couldn’t process this setback for Mary Kathryn. However, I have found my peaceful place once more, imaging myself in the palm of God’s hand, being held with love.

The photo is of Mary Kathryn’s fur babies, Zach and Zoe, wishing for her while she was in the hospital.











A Very Good Story

When the book, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, was published, I was in Menlo Park visiting John Jr. There was an incredible bookstore there, with dark wood, antique shelves, stacks of books and comfy chairs. The staff’s selection that week was this very book. I purchased it and remember sitting on John’s balcony, reading this mesmerizing tale.

It is the story of an autistic 15 year old boy. He found his neighbor’s dog after it had been killed. He was first accused of the crime, even spending a night in jail. He is encouraged by a social worker at his school to write a book about his search for the killer, and he is the narrator. Do I have you hooked yet? Explore this one, you’ll be glad that you did. (Click here to see it on Amazon.)

This book is now a play on Broadway, and critics predict it will have a very long and successful run. They are calling it “immersive.” I am planning a trip!


A Quote – Hear the Words

Jonathan Swift said: “Whoever is out of patience is out of possession of his soul. Men must not turn into bees who kill themselves in stinging others.” (One day At a Time in Al-Anon pg. 20)

This is a passage that I cannot forget. It hit home with me the first time I read it. Through the years before learning boundaries and unconditional love, I absolutely slashed with words, as with a knife, those whom I felt betrayed me, lied to me, smothered me, and abandoned me. I never felt my apologies were enough to be forgiven, as I knew any action against me was my fault. I took the blame. Acceptance of myself was never a phrase in my vocabulary.

I remember going to a friend’s house when very small and my mother reminding me that I was to play as the friend directed, because I was her guest. Later, the friend came to my house, and I was told that she was my guest and so I was to play as she wished. I asked my mother, “When do I get to do what I want to do?” As I recall, I never received an answer. I just tried so hard to please. When it became impossible to achieve, I would let the dam burst with words.

As I became stronger in my faith and my understanding of God’s grace, I realized that I had never reconciled with Mary Lee, the child within her, embracing the ultimate forgiveness. Someone yesterday at bridge commented to me that I always seem relaxed, never tense. I came home thinking about the remark and it felt good. I am not a Pollyanna, I grieve, I feel angry, but I pray that hand in hand with my Lord I will never again be so out of control as to wound another. I am happy with my life and rejoice that I have lived long enough to feel this peace. I miss John terribly but am thankful for the life we shared. He was my rock. My children are wonderfully caring to me and seem proud when I meet a challenge and overcome it. My extended family is loved as my own, and I pray to be worthy of their love. It’s a good day!


A Blog? Why?

Why did I suddenly decide to write a blog? That’s the question from my friends this week.

It’s not that I have advice to share, only experiences. I realized years ago that I could learn from hearing others share. Sitting around the table at Al-Anon meetings, I listened and found the value of being present for others. Talking things out with a person “who has his ears on,” as Mary Kathryn puts it, often brings the answer we have been seeking.

I have never studied any sort of creative writing or journalism, and I have never followed the suggestions of writing down my thoughts, so this blog is a challenge from me. As I share with you, I hope to be learning as I go. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss is a book that I purchased when it was first published. It has become my textbook of sorts, helping with comma placement, etc.

All my life, I have buried my emotions in books. I don’t have many memories of my childhood, but I do know in my heart that reading and the love of my cocker spaniel Rusty comforted me in many ways.

So: The blog is about my healing and experiences as I look back over the years. On the outside, I must have seemed to have the proverbial silver spoon. On the inside, I was a scared child who faked an illness in high school to keep from making a speech when running for a class office. Frederich Buechner, in his book Telling Secrets, encourages me to tell mine.


Stephens Suzies

Stephens College
I met three longtime friends in Kansas City a couple of weeks ago. We shared the freedom we felt in our casual clothes, because when we traveled to college in 1954 – on the train to Columbia, Mo. – we arrived in hat, white gloves and heels. I was truly giggling about how ridiculous I would look today, boarding a train in Hoxie, Arkansas, and changing in St. Louis, dressed in this way. We had bags we could barely lift and were greeted, at the station, by girls wearing Stephens beanies. I can remember the loneliness of being in a crowd and not knowing one soul, just before my 18th birthday. My first roommate was a ballerina who danced pirouettes around our tiny dorm room! It didn’t take long for the switch of suitemates to occur. My forever friend from Boston was the girl who saved my sanity!


The Horseback Riding Ministry

It was June, probably 1950, and a new minister was assigned to First Methodist Church of Jonesboro. The pastor was a man who loved horses. His parting gift from his former congregation was a horse of his very own. My memory is sketchy with details of how we offered to board this beautiful animal. There was a pasture, fenced and with water, across the lane, and I know that his horse stayed along with several others including mine in that place, when they weren’t in the fenced enclosure and barn in the rear of our house.

The minister formed a group of young teens into a “riding club” and anyone who had access to the loan of a horse and could ride was welcome to participate. I think of sunny afternoons and the caring spirit of this good person in opening his thoughts to us and the comfort of knowing him as a man, approachable with our cares.

He wanted me to exercise his horse as I had time. I remember one late afternoon when the horse stopped abruptly and dumped me into the holly bushes!

Pastors have a difficult life as they are criticized about any little thing: not preaching long enough; one who preached on too deep a level for the congregation; one who didn’t read well; one who didn’t visit the sick. I could go on and on and each one of you who read this know what I mean. This dear man began to curtail his hours with the teens because, guess what, he spent too many hours shepherding his flock to understand life as Jesus taught and other things were being ignored – or so some people judged.

When this one teen was able to escape her unhappy home and learn unconditional love, how could anyone dare object. I look back and see that the Saturday afternoons were a blessing of peace. After all, if the minister just wanted to enjoy riding his horse, why would he want a bunch of teens trailing after him!