Monday, May 31, 2010

A Few Good Men

There are many stories that make up a family’s history. Some of them are happy. Some of them are sad. Some get better each time they are told. This is a little bit of all three. This is a small part of my family’s story.

John Davenport ~ My husband Bob’s Grandfather

Alton Military Academy

We don’t know much about John Davenport. We do know he was an orphan, shipped from the east to the Midwest as a child. He was adopted by a farm family, Bob’s great-grandparents, the mother full Cherokee and the father a former Indian scout for the military. John was sent to Alton Military Academy for high school, spent some time in the service in the early 1900s, then married, producing my mother-in-law before passing away at thirty-three. I guess the military influence in our family began right here. So, thank you Grandpa John. I hope we have made you proud as you made us.

Robert Leo Hansen ~ My husband Bob’s Father

Loyola Marymount Marching Band

Rob Hansen with his sister and brother

Rob and Bill ~ They would remain close friends for more than 50 years

Robert Hansen was the youngest of three children. He went from playing the trombone in the Loyola marching band to fighting for our freedom in just a matter of months. My mother-in-law Lucy married Rob in the midst of World War II, while they were both barely out of their teens. Two days later, he was shipped overseas. When my father-in-law would tell his stories of that time, I could only imagine how Granny, his mother, must have felt. Now I know.

Bernice and Charles Casas ~ My parents

My parents married in 1940. Four years later, my dad was on his way overseas to fight in a war. Both my parents were scared and lonely for one another. How do I know? I have read all one hundred and twenty-two letters my father wrote to my mother while they were apart. My mother saved them and never told anyone. When she died, she left my oldest sister all her jewelry, my younger sisters received expensive artwork and furniture. Her handwritten will simply stated I was to get any and all paper. My mother was amazingly wise. She knew me better than I could have ever imagined. She left me the most valuable things she owned. They are now the most valuable thing I own.

The Letters

Luis Casas ~ One of my father's brothers

One of the many stories my father would tell throughout his eighty-nine years, was of the time he was overseas in the middle of nowhere. He and his shipmates had survived many attacks from the enemy but now they faced a new battle…hunger. The ship was running out of supplies and had been cut off from receiving any new shipments. Then one day, out of nowhere, a merchant marine ship appeared. My dad said he knew instantly that his brother Louie was on that ship with supplies. He talked his commander into allowing him to take a small crew over to the marine ship, where sure enough, my Uncle Louie had food ready to send back with my dad. I think of this story often, especially when purchasing fresh fruit and milk, just two of the things my dad never forgot receiving from his brother out in the middle of nowhere.
Joseph Janowicz ~ Vietnam Veteran

When I was about eleven years old, my cousin was engaged to be married. Joe Janowicz was a fine soul. A while back, I wrote this post about how he and his service to our country affected my life then and now. I am including it here in honor of Joe today.

John Robert Leo Hansen ~ Our Middle Son
Bob, John, Me, Andrew and Matthew ~ Naval Academy Graduation
Placing of the boards with Amy, John's now wife ~ Yes, I am crying
When our middle son, John was sixteen years old, he told us he wanted to join the Navy. We did not want him to join the Navy. Or the Army. Or the Marines. Or anything else where he had to carry a gun and possibly shoot people or be shot at. He was adamant, joining the military was what he was suppose to do. His grandfathers had done it and he felt he needed to do it. It was something deep in his heart that we didn’t understand. We think we do now. Maybe not. Either way, we are extremely proud of our Popeye. He enlisted after graduation, at seventeen years old. A few years later he was picked up by the Naval Academy. Tomorrow, John Robert Leo Hansen will put on Lieutenant. You amaze us, son. You have done us proud. All of us.
Matthew Charles Hansen ~ Our oldest son
In Iraq

Matthew and John
Shortly after 9/11, our oldest son told us he was joining the Army. He was married with two children and had a nice house and a good job. We did everything possible to talk him out of it. We were scared. No, we were terrified. The last time we pleaded with him to not do this, he responded with, “How can I ever explain to my children that I sat at home and did nothing while other men stood up for our country?” We never pleaded again. We prayed and still do. Matthew, like his brother John, is a helicopter pilot. He has been to Iraq and understands the severity of this awful war. He has seen first hand the price that has been paid. We make no excuses or arguments for any of the awfulness of war. We simply stand with our son and thank God for the lives that have been spared while weeping for the lives that have been lost.
Joshua R. Rodgers ~ A Good Man

Finally, I want to honor someone who is not technically a part of our family but who will always remain in the heart of this family.
Joshua Rodgers was our son Matthew’s friend. They were both Chinook helicopter pilots. Matthew was flying missions in Iraq while Josh was flying missions in Afghanistan. On May 30, 2007, Josh and his crew were shot down. There were no survivors. To say our hearts broke for his wife Casey and their three little girls, well, there just are no words. Joshua lived his life out loud. Just a few short weeks before his death, he sent Matthew an email detailing what is important in life. He urged Matthew to live that way, focused on what matters. Josh’s life and subsequent death changed Matthew’s life…all of our lives…forever. Thank you Josh, for living your life focused on what matters. Every year since that fateful day, on May 30th we plant a Double Delight Rose bush. It is Josh’s garden. Walking by and smelling their sweet aroma reminds us that the fragrance of Josh’s life remains. It always will.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I May Need An Attorney

I called my sister Kelly tonight. I have called her every night since I got home from abandoning her at MD Anderson. It isn’t like I left her there completely alone. Our older sister, Charlene, is there with Kelly. Of course, Kelly says Char is only good for hair and make up. I'm not sure but I think Char may be falling down on the job.

Anyway, Kelly sounds absolutely wonderful. Her pain is more manageable and she is working hard on her physical therapy. I am really proud of her and I sincerely mean that. If I had to face a drop of what she has gone through the last three years, well, I would have been balled up in the fetal position in a corner years ago. No, seriously. My sister is by far one of the bravest people I know. And I am not just saying that. I truly mean it. I only post embarrassing pictures of her because she normally looks like this.

I am just jealous of her. That’s what she says anyway. I admit, Kelly is a very pretty woman. She has always had a great figure, pretty face and a brilliant personality. Seriously. That is probably part of what always got her into trouble. Not that I am going to tell you about any of her “problems”. That would be wrong. Besides, I don’t think she meant to attract wealthy, old men. Sometimes, things just happen.

And the whole sailor thing. It was a phase, people. A passing phase. She was like a room mother to those boys when the ship docked.

Most of the time, Kelly was in her backyard hula hooping, minding her own business.

Except for when those parties would somehow erupt in her backyard and more old men would show up. She was like a light attracting moths. Smelly, wrinkled, old moths. It was amazing. But I can’t tell you about any of it. That would be wrong.

Anyway, she is married now and settled down. Kelly is ready to get out of that hospital so she can get back to work…and drinking Baileys. Not that she has a drinking problem. I would never suggest that. And when she finally catches up with this blog and shows this picture of me at trial, I will simply plead insanity.

Besides, it was Kelly herself who suggested I write about her. I am only following orders. I'm obedient like that. Anyway, I am going to finish packing now since we leave for the airport in about twelve hours. Yep, tomorrow we are on our way to California for our youngest son's wedding. Truth be told, I am downright sad that Kelly won't be there. I know she is pretty sad about it too. I told her not to worry, that I had found a dress and she would be proud of me when she saw the pictures. I promised her it wouldn't be any worse than when we were in Char's wedding.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Case Of Mistaken Identity

I can hardly believe an entire week has gone by since I wrote my last post. Time flies when you are stressed out to the max. So, what is it that has me so discombobulated? Thanks for asking, I’ll be glad to tell you.

My Sister, Kelly

Kelly is out of ICU and doing just fine. Part of the reason she is doing so well, I suspect, is because they have her so heavily medicated. I call her every night and can’t understand a single word she says. The bad part is, she is in so much pain that she has to be heavily medicated. The good part is, I can’t understand a single word she says. Then there is that other bad part. The part where she is going to kill me for posting her Courtney Love photo. I know I said Cyndi Lauper earlier, but with the drugs and everything, I am thinking, definitely Courtney Love. Anyway, I want to be there with her but I can’t so it is stressful and that is why I must eat Oreos.

The Wedding Plan B

My son’s wedding is in five days and without a dress to wear, I came up with a brilliant Plan B. Ok, here it is…or was…whatever. Anyway, the brides family has never met us. Never. Met. Us. NEVER! This got me to thinking and you know how dangerous that is. It got me thinking about the most beautiful couple in our family. That would be my cousins Jack and Barbara. Oh yeah, they are beautiful and classy and sophisticated and normal. Nothing like Bob and me…AT ALL! We love them very much. They love us too. Or so we thought. Anyway, this is them a hundred years ago.

This is them a hundred years later.

Notice anything? No change! No stinking change!! Still beautiful. Still perfect. That’s when the idea hit me. Jack and Barbara could go as Bob and Marla and NOBODY would be the wiser. Ok, maybe our kids would notice but they wouldn’t care because they love Jack and Barbara and probably wish they were their parents. I’m telling you, sometimes I even amaze myself. So, I mentioned my idea to J and B…and they laughed. Laughed. Right in my face. I was speechless. After all I’ve done for them. Ok, I have never done anything for them, but I have thought about doing nice things for them. Anyway, I am pretty sure they have changed their phone number since I get a fast busy when I call now.

The Wedding Plan C

So, that left me with Plan C…which was to actually go shopping for a dress…with five days left before the wedding…three days left before our plane leaves for California…one day left before I have a complete nervous breakdown. My oldest daughter, Rachel said she would take me and help me pick something out. This is good because I have no fashion sense. My girls say I dress too old. My sisters say I dress too Amish. If you are an old Amish woman, I apologize. There is nothing wrong with the way you dress. Maybe this is why I dress like you. Anyway…

So, Rae and I went shopping. I tried on five million dresses. Most of them had me laughing, some had me crying, all had me doing the boogie woogie in the dressing room trying to get in and out of them as soon as possible. I am just not a girlie girl. I seriously have a physical condition that makes it necessary to dress in shorts, tshirts and flip flops. I can’t remember the name of it…something like slobitis…but I swear it’s a real condition. Would I lie to you?

Well, not thirty minutes before the stores were closing, I ran into the dressing room with ten more dresses and as I was running…yes, running…past a rack, I saw this totally, ridiculously, sexy, girl dress and I grabbed it and said, “Rae, get ready for this one!” I was laughing like the fool that I am when I closed the dressing room door, ripped my clothes off and pulled the sexy, girl dress on. Turning to face the mirror, I actually gasped. When I stepped out of the room, Rae gasped. The lady in the dressing room next to me stepped out because she said she had to see what all the gasping was about, and she gasped. When I brought it home and put it on for Bob, he gasped. Then he wanted to kiss me…and stuff. I look like… like…like a girl. No, you cannot see pictures…yet. I promise to post tons of pictures after the wedding. I will be the one wearing the totally, ridiculously, sexy, girl dress.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Girls Just Want To Have Fun

Where do I begin? I believe I will start at the end and work my way backwards. So, here we go…

Kelly is resting in ICU right now, quite comfortably considering what she went through earlier. She was admitted to MDA on Friday, having her tumor embolized in preparation for Monday. Her nine hour surgery today went very well, with the vast majority of the tumor being removed, two titanium rods screwed and cemented in place and no paralysis. What more could a girl want? Thank you, God. Oh, and lest we forget…thank you McDreamy. You truly made a girl's dream come true.

Speaking of McDreamy...when I arrived in Houston Friday night, my sister Kelly couldn't wait to tell me how she had informed McDreamy that I have a blog and he is among my victims. Oh yeah, and that we call him McDreamy. Behind his back. Well, yeah. Like it would be any fun to his face. Anyway, thanks, Kel. I will so get you for this one, too! As a matter of fact, now that I know you will live another day, you can still walk, and you plan on continuing to drive me crazy, I believe I will begin my retribution at once. Yes, I believe I will.

Let's begin with hair and attire. You took great pleasure in tormenting me this weekend about my hair and clothes. I believe you mentioned I reminded you of a certain type of woman. Now who was it? Let me think. Oh, that's right! Wasn't it something like, "What are you, Amish, with that hair and outfit?" Yeah, that was it.

Then their was that little pet name you kept calling me every five minutes. What was it again? I believe it smacked of political incorrectness, if I recall. Wasn't it along the lines of, "Hey, Pocahontas! Get me a kleenex!" Why yes, now that I think about it, I think that was exactly the perfectly delivered insult regarding my hair.

So, I just have one question for you, regarding your hair and attire. Who are you suppose to be.....

Cyndi Lauper?

Oh, and one last thing for all of you wondering about my hair and wedding outfit. No, I didn't go shopping during the surgery. I was actually a bit scared and worried for my sister and just could not bring myself to leave the hospital. No worries. I still have my plan. What? I never told you my plan? Well.....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You’re Not The Boss Of Me

I spoke with my sister, Kelly, today. She and her best friend Teresa made it safely to Houston last night. Kel’s MRIs, X-rays, blood work and all the rest of the pre-op hoopla began yesterday, as soon as she arrived at MDA. She seems to be in good spirits, though she sounds tired. Not too tired to boss me around however.

I simply stated that I had not purchased a dress, cut my hair, waxed my brows or shaved any necessary areas….legs people! Sheesh!....and she freaked out. It’s not like the wedding is in two weeks. It’s actually seventeen days away. That’s plenty of time to lose forty pounds, grow five inches taller and turn into a blonde. Relax already! Go have your surgery and leave me to my fantasy world, will ya? I’m not the mother of the bride. I’m the mother of the groom. I’ll hardly be noticed. It's not like it's my wedding. Hey! Maybe I could wear one of those cool, yellow, handmade gowns from my wedding.

But noooooo! She called me back to inform me that while she is in surgery Monday, our older sister will be taking me shopping. To buy a dress. And other girl crap. I have ridden this pony before with these two. Charlene is going to get me out there in the land of Big Hair Women and it will be like a bad episode of What Not To Wear. She will have people touching, plucking, primping and praying over parts of me that are best left to jeans, tshirts, flip flops and hairclips. And while she and the glamour gals from stores I am usually not allowed in….no, really, these places have dress codes to keep people like me out….are tittering away about how to stuff my Dolce into a Gabbana, I will be looking for the nearest Starbucks to go with my Cinnabon. There is nothing wrong with the way I look, thank you!

Ok, so that's not really me. It's my daughter-in-law, Amy. Hey, it could have been me. If I was younger....and thinner....and blonde.....and cute.....and...

Anyway, I told Kelly there was no way I was going to go shopping with Char while she was in surgery. I was going to be sitting in the surgical waiting room the entire time….and not because that cute little old man comes by with free coffee and snacks every hour. That is just a coincidence, that I happen to like hourly snacks and coffee and he happens to come by.

So, Miss Kelly tells me, oh yes I am going shopping because she and Char already have it arranged and I am going to do what she says and it is all settled and Blah, freakedy, Blah, Blah…..Blah!

So I responded in my usual mature fashion, “Oh really? Seems to me, you will be in lala land and will have no power over me. What. So. Ever. Ha!”

To which she mentioned something about reading my blog….and commenting….and certain possible folderol from my younger days being released to the masses. I think she was still talking when I hung up.

So, I have come up with a plan of my own. It’s a good one. And it could work. I’ll share it with you…. tomorrow ….

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This One's For You, Kelly Jeanne

A few weeks ago, I posted this wonderful confession about my moron sister being the cause of my suppressed emotions. Ok, maybe it's not actually wonderful and maybe we are both morons. You decide.

Anyway, here is my revenge follow-up post. Hey, she's not your sister. You have no idea. Don't judge me.

Ok Kelly, as promised, here is my post thoughtfully and painstakingly prepared with you in mind. I know you are “getting the jitters” but remember what Dr. McDreamy said. Without the surgery, paralysis is guaranteed and who wants that? Not me. If that happened, you would have to come live with me so I could take care of you. That alone should make you dance into the surgical suite. I mean, if you lived with me well…..let me put it in Lettermanesque form.


1. White Trash Cooking ~

Face it. If you lived with me it would be a daily diet of white trash cooking. Gone would be the days of fresh fruits and veggies straight from the fields of California. There would be no more Monterey Bay fresh fish lightly grilled with just a sprig of rosemary. Nope. It’d be biscuits and gravy for breakfast, fried chicken, mashed taters and gravy with fried okra for lunch and fried catfish with gravy, corn pones and corn on the cob for dinner. Did I mention the gravy? Of course, we’d have a Jello cake for dessert and don’t forget the sweet tea at every meal. Yum Doggie!

2. No dentists ~

Dentists? In Oklahoma? Be serious! You’d never have to worry about brushing or flossing again.

3. Hair and Makeup ~

Remember the last time you put me in charge of your hair and make-up? Twelve years ago? Right after your first brain surgery? I believe you said something about making sure you looked good when all your humble servants came by to bask in your glory. After all, you were a big wheel in the IBM machine. We couldn’t have you looking like…..well, like you lived in Oklahoma, for heaven sake.

4. Clothes ~

I know you love the movie Mean Girls. Ok, that alone creeps me out. Anyway, remember that one special line? “Sorry, we only carry sizes 1, 3 and 5. You should try Sears.” Yeah, that one. If you lived with me it would be a guaranteed Sears wardrobe you’d be wearing. Sears is the Oklahoma version of Nordstroms. It’s for the uppity okie. Now seriously, how would you ever live that one down?

5. Wal Mart Runs ~

Sometimes, when I forget to do the laundry, I have been known to put clothes on that may not fit me exactly right. Then, I run to Wal Mart just to get a few things like deodorant, jerky and Pabst Blue Ribbon. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. So, if you lived with me, well, I might accidentally squeeze myself into your clothes for a Wal Mart run. It wouldn’t be pretty.

6. Wheelchair Races ~

I’d probably do something crazy like enter you in the wheelchair race at the county fair. I know we could win but you’d go to whining about tipping over or some such nonsense. Like the time we were in San Francisco and I wanted to let go of you at the top of Ghirardelli Square so you could roll down the hill and wave at all the people inside the ice cream store as you whizzed by. Of course, you protested even though I had the girls ready at the bottom of the hill to catch you. Sometimes, you are just no fun at all.

7. Vacation ~

We no longer have the wheelchair accessible van. The tornado got it, remember? We do have the mini van and the big, old diesel truck, however. That would mean tying you to the top of the van or using bungees to strap you into the bed of the truck for vacation. Now, how would your hair look after riding to Arkansas for vacations in the back of a diesel pick up? Seriously! And don’t forget our poor old neighbor Violet. Remember what happened to her when dad stuck her and mom in the back of a truck filled with all those little girls? Seeing her fall off her lawn chair and her head come off when dad slammed on the breaks was just horrific. Ok, it was only her wig but how were we to know? We were only little girls. Screaming, traumatized little girls. Moving on…..

8. John Wayne ~

You would be forced to watch John Wayne movies. All. Day. Long. Did I mention Oklahoma is the proud home of the Cowboy Hall of Fame? We would take you there on Sundays for worship services.

9. What Ever Happened? ~

Ok, you already know where I’m going with this one. I can’t help myself. How many sisters can say their favorite movie since early childhood is What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? This may explain a lot about what is wrong with the two of us. Think about it. Anyway, if you lived with me you know darn well, we would end up fighting and then I would be forced to serve Harley to you on a silver platter and I love that bird. It just would all be so wrong.

10. Buh Bye ~

Let’s think for a moment about all the people who have moved in with me or I moved in with them so I could take care of them:

Aunt Sisi ….dead.

Bob’s mom, Lucy….dead.

Our mom….dead.

Uncle Louie….dead.

Our dad….dead.

Face it. My track record for keeping people alive is nothing to brag about. Save yourself. Have the surgery. You’ll thank me later.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometimes Stupid Has A Name …

And That Name Is Hansen! Once you read this final installment of the tornado story, it will all make sense. Well, actually, it will make no sense if you have any sense.

The first three days after the tornado, we literally spent hours on the phone trying to find a rental car and a place to live. The entire state had been hit so hard, that neither one of those things was to be found anywhere. Finally, on the fourth day, we moved in with our oldest daughter and her husband. They had moved into their new home the day of the tornado and now we were moving in with them. I can’t tell you how badly I felt for them as a newly married couple, having all of us living there with them but we were thankful just the same. A week later, we found a used Suburban to purchase. It was over-priced but we were desperate and sadly, many people saw this time as an opportunity to make money.

The next three months were a whirlwind, almost as crazy as the original tornado. Our insurance agent who, just months before the tornado, had talked us into policy changes, now informed us that we were under-insured and not eligible for a full policy payout. I quickly woke up from my misery. Pissing me off when I am already an emotional wreck is never a good thing. I threw him off our property and began looking for an attorney. It was one thing for a damn tornado to take my crap. It was a whole different drama for an insurance company to try and mess with me. It was on!

By the end of those first three months, we had found a trailer, an attorney and a contractor. It was like the beginning of a bad joke. Seriously! The trailer was a thirty year old beauty. Ok, not really. It was an old nag that had been ridden hard and put away wet but at least we would have a place to live and be back on the farm. The goal was to live in The Nest, as we named the trailer, for about six months. Just long enough to rebuild the farmhouse from the frame up. There had been so much damage to the house that it had to be torn down to the studs and rebuilt, according to the inspectors. It would take us an additional two months of depositions and gathering evidence before we would see an insurance payoff. They actually had the nerve at one point to ask if we were sure we had been hit by a tornado since FEMA did not show one in our area that night. “Ummmm…let me think about that Mr. Harvard Attorney. You are so much smarter than us dumb Okies that I am just sure you must be right. How in the world could I have possibly thought a tornado did this to my farm? It must have been something else. Something that was our own ignorant fault. Something like ….oh I don’t know….a barn dance that got out of control, gosh darn it!” Yep, I pretty much said that to the attorney, all while glaring between him and the insurance adjuster. The deposition immediately ended, they cancelled Bob’s depo and made payment in full by the end of the week.

Five months after the tornado, we were finally ready to begin rebuilding. We had looked for a contractor for months with no luck until one day, one found us. He had heard about our troubles and drove out to the farm to offer his services. He specialized in restoring old homes and was really excited about helping us. He became an instant friend. That should have been our first red flag. There would be plenty of other warning signs along the way. We like to think we were just too desperate, tired and shell-shocked to notice them. The truth is, it aint easy being that stupid. So, eighteen months after the tornado, our house sat worse off than before, our contractor was gone and had conveniently taken our insurance money with him. We would find out later, this man was never a contractor and in fact, had a criminal record from another state for fraud. I hate to admit it now, but the truth is, I went into a serious depression after realizing how foolish we had been. I entered counseling, cried a lot and tried to focus on finding happiness as the Queen of a Single Wide.

One day while I was sitting in our living room, just waiting for Jerry Springer to knock on the trailer door any minute, the phone rang. The largest and most prestigious law firm in Oklahoma had somehow heard about us and was calling to offer their services … AT NO CHARGE! At first, I thought, yeah right but I agreed to meet their assigned attorney the next day. Once I sat in that incredibly beautiful office and realized they were serious about helping us, I fell apart. That blubbery cry did more for me than weeks of therapy. So, Crowe and Dunlevy went after the “contractor” getting back $45,000, about half of what he took. There was nothing else left to get. The cost to rebuild our home was about $150,000. We had no idea how this was ever going to happen or if it was ever going to happen. Life seemed fairly bleak. We decided to take the money we had, and at least put the roof back on along with all new doors and windows. We also had enough to have all the plumbing and electrical replaced. We took out a loan to have Sears put siding on the house and to hire a real contractor to finish the drywall that had been started but never finished. Then, the house just sat. With no money to complete the project, we went on living in The Nest, watching the farmhouse watch us. The last straw was when a snowstorm hit, lasting for days, freezing our pipes and leaving us with no water. I finally yelled at God, “Ok, I get it! Whatever it is You’re trying to teach me, I get it! Enough already!”

It wasn’t a day later that a man named Jerry showed up at our door. He was the husband of a woman from our church. Jerry didn’t attend and we had never met. He had heard we were without water, so he loaded his car with jugs of fresh water and drove the forty-five minute drive to our house…in a snowstorm. So many people had done so much for us over the last two years, that I was worn out with being helped. That sounds so awful and ungrateful and I am ashamed to admit it. But, it is the truth of how I felt. I wanted to help myself and help others. I was tired of being the needy one. I am pretty sure this is when God probably laughed saying, “You don’t get it yet. But you will.”

After Jerry dropped off the water, he asked if he might walk through the farmhouse. I told him sure, and he left. I watched him walk across the field and go into the house. That’s when I turned and went back to my day, not giving Jerry another thought. Hours later, when the kids arrived from school, they asked who’s car was in the driveway. I looked outside and saw Jerry’s car. Panic hit and I ran to the farmhouse thinking something awful must have happened to him. What I found once inside, was Jerry, a man we didn't know before that day, sweeping and cleaning and preparing. He had gone all the way back home, picked up his tools and kerosene heaters and was working on our house. I stood there with my mouth open not knowing what to say. He started asking me questions about colors and flooring and what kind of bath fixtures and light fixtures did I want and…..

“Wait. Stop. We have no money. We can’t pay you. We can’t buy anything. We’re done.”

That’s when Jerry let me know even though we were done, he wasn’t. He was going to put our house back together with his own two hands and with his own money. He was retired and needed something to do was the big, fat excuse he gave. But I knew better. I smelled the mercy of God and instead of being thankful, I walked back over to the trailer, sat on my bed and cried angry tears. I did not want any more hand outs or helps up. I wanted my life back on my terms. My terms. God laughed.

Over the next month, I watched Jerry show up at the farmhouse day after day. He would arrive early in the morning and be there until evening. I rarely went over to see what was happening….at first. I convinced myself I just didn’t care anymore. Then one day, I walked over. There was Jerry, working, happy, talking my ear off as soon as he saw me. And it hit me. This man, who didn’t know us, didn’t owe us anything, didn’t go to church with us, this man was the perfect picture of how much God loved us and wanted to restore everything to us….including our joy. The most valuable thing I had lost over the last two years was my joy.

So, for the next five months or so, I walked over to the farmhouse in the mornings to meet Jerry. We had coffee and worked and talked. He taught me how to lay flooring and put up wallpaper and how to paint. He also taught me how to receive that which I have not earned and do not deserve. He taught me about love.

We moved back into our home April 2001. The old farmhouse went back to hosting Christmas Parties ....
(that's Jerry sitting on the floor to the right of the piano)

and wedding showers....

and exchange students...

and new babies at Thanksgiving time.


As for my joy. It never really left me. It just got lost in all the rubble for a bit.