Friday, March 19, 2010

My New Friend

I made a new friend and I want you to meet her too...

I'm annoyingly driving along rush hour traffic trying to make it to my chiropractor appointment when I noticed this frail old woman inching along with her walker! Ummm...what the heck?! What on earth is she doing?! Is she a nursing home runaway? Is she loosing her mind? My heart broke as I pictured my sweet Grandma back in Oklahoma. I had to stop! I jerked off the interstate, swung my car around, hit a curb in the process and was on for the search. By the time I got through the traffic and everyone got out of my way I couldn't find her? I'm laughing, there's no way she could have gone far? I noticed a side street from where she was inching and there! A tiny hunched red blob! Thank God she didn't try to cross the crazy intersection! I caught up with her and hit the breaks. Lots of honking (Where the heck is that giant black button? The one with the red triangle on it?!) more honking, (OKAY people) oh screw it! I Roll the window down and in my sweetest voice I say, "Ma'am, can I help you?" Granny can't hear me. "MA'AM, CAN I HELP YOU?" Granny, "Oh no thank you, I'm just going to Target." I gasp! TARGET?! It would take her at least an hour to get to target! "Can I please give you a ride?" Granny chuckles, "You're not going to kidnap me are you?" I laughed and convinced her to hop in. Well, actually my SUV is not suitable for a tiny old woman so "hopping" wasn't really reasonable. I kind of lifted/scooted her in, threw her walker in the back and we were on our way!

I find out that Granny has a name which is Dorothy. Of course it's Dorothy because that has got to be the most perfect name for a sweet old granny who by the way is 86! "Dang Dorothy, you're still kicking!" Dorothy laughs. She reminds me of my Grandma. "Dorothy, what are you doing walking to Target by yourself?" Dorothy, "Oh, sometime I need a little adventure." "Dorothy, maybe you should read a book". Dorothy laughs, again I think of Grandma. "Dorothy, I like you and I'm going to help you shop today." She tells me I'm an angel...I laugh...hard.

Dorothy lives in an assisted living home. Her shuttle dropped her off at her eye doctor appointment and from there she decided to go to Target. She needed a new battery for her watch. Last week she missed her Bridge tournament because her watch wasn't working an she couldn't tell the time. My heart sunk, I would get her a new watch battery today if it was the last thing I did, Dorothy will not miss another Bridge tournament! Inching through Target I can't help but get angry as people are whisking by, inconvenienced when they get stuck behind her, or roll their eyes as they impatiently wait. Patience is a virtue people! While shopping, Dorothy decided to take advantage of my SUV and buy two king size pillows and a HUGE bag of soil for her garden. That a girl Dorothy! We make it to the check out line and Dorothy is mortified. She forgot to pick up a pack of socks for her husband Alfred, which I also think is an adorable name for what I imagine must be the sweetest old man to be married to this sweetest old lady. Dorothy, "Can I quickly go grab some socks?" "No, but you can SLOWLY go grab some socks." God forbid this woman falls and breaks a hip! Dorothy laughs, "I'm not used to people being so patient with me." I make a vow to never be impatient again. I'll let you know how long that last. 30 minutes later we grabbed the socks and checked out of target for the second time!

Dorothy says with a huge smile, "What is your name again?" I laugh, "Katherine". Dorothy, "Would you like to sit and have some water?" A check list vividly pops into my brain: chiropractor appointment, walking date with a friend, pack for Ohio, laundry, cook dinner, study..."Dorothy, I would love to sit and have some water with you." She smiles, I think of my Grandma.

While sipping water with Dorothy, I learn a lot about her life. Like Alfred recently breaking his hip causing him to be away from her in the hospital, her grandchildren, her children, her dog Rosy, and so much more. At this moment I remember I need to call Ryan! Oh crap, he's going to be worried about me. I dial, he answers, "Babe, this is really random but I saw this old lady walking on the side of the highway and I picked her up, I'm going to be home late." Ryan, "What?! "I'll explain later." Ryan, "Be safe!" I start laughing at the thought of an 86 year old elderly woman attacking me! Okay, it's getting late need to get going. Besides, Target has a policy and they won't change watch batteries and Dorothy will not miss another Bridge Tournament! Dorothy, "We better get going".

We inch to the car, throw the walker, pillows, and HUGE bag of soil into the back, lift into the seat, and head across to Radio Shack. They can't change the watch battery either! Ugh! So I go across the street into a jewelry shop. Dorothy is waiting in the car during all this as I walk into the store. Please picture this...Pit Bull dog chained to the wall, mid-40's guy who appears to be having a mid life crisis with his mullet, gold chain jewelry proudly displayed over his body, camouflage chaps (yes, I said chaps) and teeth white as snow. Classic. He changes the watch battery and the watch is broken. Nice. Dorothy might be missing her Bridge tournament after all. As I'm leaving mid life crisis guy encourages me to dig for all my gold jewelry and sell it to him. I promised I would keep that in mind. :)

I leave feeling a little defeated, but it was a good try. Now, on our way home. I'm a little nervous but Dorothy pulls through! We make it through all the twists and turns reaching the assisted living center. It's really nice! We walk into hallway and I'm hit with a wave of heat. I would love it here! We reach her room, open the door, and immediately here comes Rosy (the fattest Chiwawa I've ever seen). Dorothy is SO proud to show her off and I'm touched to see how much Rosy loves her owner! We get things settled in her house and I can't help but notice all the memories, sentiments, and precious tea cups proudly displayed throughout her home. Dorothy is thrilled as I take her up on the offer to sit in the chairs that view the man made pond in her back yard. I'm so glad I took her up on her offer as I hear Dorothy and Alfred have been married for 65 years and they like to watch old movies together. She is excited for him to return home from the nursing home. Me too because I hate leaving her all by herself. We exchange numbers and she thanks me with words, a hug, a smile, and tangerines. I promise her that I will be back and bring Ryan to meet her too.

I leave with a huge smile on my face. I loved meeting Dorothy. I'm not sure why God crossed our paths, but I was thankful for the opportunity. The opportunity to show God's love, to be loved, get out of my comfort zone, stop my busy life and be reminded of the important things. Maybe meeting Dorothy helped you do the same. :)

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

16 and Pregnant

I just want to get on the inner com at my school and shout, "Stop having unprotected sex!" For the Love of God, you are not invincible, it can happen to you. I don't get it, I will never get it, and I will never understand it! Why kids make the choice every day to have unprotected sex!! And I am very passionate about this because if I don't fight this battle it's only a matter of time that I will be fighting a much harder battle...abortion.

I started watching the show "16 and Pregnant" hosted on MTV really for educational purposes. It was fascinating at first watching the family dynamics etc., then just down right sad. It broke my heart to see these girls raise babies on their own, be treated by dirt by the fathers, hold onto unrealistic dreams of the "perfect family" and to see the babies grow up up in this environment...I felt overwhelmed. Out of all the couples I have seen only one healthy couple portrayed great qualities of a relationship and they made the selfless choice to give their baby a better life with adoption. Now please don't mis-read me. My teenage moms that do make the choice of abortion I love dearly. I grieve those babies lives but that is not an easy choice any woman has to make. My heart goes out to them.

But here's the thing. Despite all the statistics, facts, speakers, COMMON knowledge, they still make this crazy choice. I support through pregnancy scare, pregnancies, adoptions, abortions, teen moms and STILL these children AND their parents will NOT put them or choose to use birth control. Ahhhhh!!!!! I want to SCREAM! Now is a good time to mention that I've been reading through "The Daily Bible" because I'm so holy at which I'm currently 8 days behind and in genesis this occurred to me. God specifically told Adam and Eve, "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die." I mean could God be more specific? So this is what dawned on me. Adam and Eve must have been 16. Tell a teenager that 1+1='s 2 and they will argue with it and try to prove you wrong or think..."Yeah, but not me". And you know, the kids are not the only one's to blame. I have conversations with parents all the time...
Me: Mrs. Denial, you're daughter has been having unprotected sex, she needs to get a pregnancy
Mrs. Denial: What?! I am shocked! (Despite all the OBVIOUS signs). Well, I will have a talk
with her.
Days later calling for a follow up.
Me: Hi Mrs. Denial, can you give me an update on the situation with your daughter.
Mrs. Denial: Oh yes, (AKA: I don't really want to talk about it out loud because I'm doing my
best to act like it never happened) I talked with my daughter and she's not going to have
sex again. (Ever in her entire life)

Again, I want to scream. Please don't live in the land of denial! Get out!

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs

April 30th, 2009 a young boy passed away with Leukemia. He attended the high school that I work at for his Freshman year. Most of his sophomore year was spent battling for his life in a local hospital. Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to meet this young boy. I started hearing more and more about him as students were coming with me with concern and wanting help with their fears. I became emotionally attached with this young boy through his carinbridge site. One day in my office I stared at the computer for over 3 hours reading about the trials one goes through when fighting such a disease. It was reading the stories on the site of hope, faith, his friends visiting him on his birthday. The love and support from his church was amazing, a member from the church staff visited him and his family everyday! I couldn't help but think about his mother, father, and older brother. I remember being ecstatic reading the updates as the news got greater, greater, and greater. Cancer free to be exact! Then the shock and disappointment when the last update stated, "Dear friends, we are sad to say the Leukemia has returned, there is nothing left that the doctors can do." It was a tough year last year at the high school. We had a boy murdered, 2 students die of cancer, one die in a car crash, and another pass away from a reaction to IB Profuen. I never imagined I would be conducting 5 grief groups in one year.
The 5 dwarfs were friends of this young boy I've been talking about. It's been a very difficult grief group. They are hurt, angry, and they miss their friend terribly. The day this young man died was a day like I had never seen before at RHS. We must of checked out the entire sophomore class (over 400 students) that day at school. Leading a group of boys is definitely outside my comfort zone and it's been challenging. And today was the most challenging of all. Snow White (mom who lost her son) called me to inform me that her son's tombstone would be placed and she wanted to give the dwarfs an opportunity to see it first and together. So I set up a field trip today for the boys. We drove out to the graveside, there Snow White left a cooler of Red Bull (son's favorite) and a letter to each dwarf. I too had the dwarfs write a letter to Snow White, telling her what her son meant to them and how they were going to keep his memory alive. I knew this would be important because Snow White expressed me that her greatest fear (other than losing a child) was that he would be forgotten. This boy will never be forgotten, not by the dwarfs and not by me. They also were to write one a 6 pack of eggs what they were angry about and "chuck" em!
But here's the thing. Out of all my grief groups these boys have had the most difficult time coping. Snow White believes in God and so did her son. He is in Heaven and I'm so thankful for that other wise this experience would have been much more difficult. It's been on my heart for a long time and then when I went to church yesterday it confirmed it. The sermon encouraged us to share our faith. I love my job because I get to show God's love everyday to students. Saying it however...that's a different story. But today was the perfect opportunity. I wasn't on school grounds and today out of all days would be the time that I had their attention. So I mustered up the courage and said...
"Your friend believed in God. He is in heaven, he is happy, he is whole, he is taken care of, and he was ready to go. God doesn't disappoint us, but life does. God did take care of him, it just wasn't the way we wanted him to be taken care of. Your friend does not want a legacy of hatred left behind. He wants you to remember that he was strong and accepted life the way it was. And the best part is, you can see him again! You can see him again when it's your turn to pass. But you have to have God in your heart." God says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come! Your friend experienced that and you can too!
And that tiny paragraph took me about a week to gutsy up and say.
Did it make a difference? No clue. But I'm hoping it planted a seed in their sweet heads. These young men are precious. They have already had too much hurt for their young ages. No dads, addicted parents, verbal abuse and a loss of a dear friend. They have every reason to NOT believe in a God but it's more the reason that they NEED God. So please help me pray. That they will think about what was said and that I will continue to have the courage to share. He was an incredible young man. The 6 of them together had a unique friendship and tragically watched their best friend shrivel away. I got to talk with Snow White today. She is beautiful and doing wonderful. Holding strong to God and living life. The good days and the bad. I'm so touched that I have gotten to be a part of her life.

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