Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Happy Birthday again

I can't believe I let a let a whole year go by without updating once. So much has happened in the past year. I'll update sometime soon.

Dan made a post this morning honoring my birthday and I want to share it here. If it helps one person to think and make a decision to change their circumstances it will be a terrific birthday present for me.
It's concerning domestic violence which is a cause near and dear to my heart because I lived it. This is my own experience. However, often my situation is repeated over and over hundreds of time daily.

The issue needs to come out of the closet and be exposed in the light of day. Abusers will not want you to read my story or anyone else's that tell you there is a way out.
I'm going to tell you the truth, it isn't easy but you can do it.
I'm ordinary; I am just a lady who was a housewife, raised her kids, belonged to PTA, worked at jobs, volunteered. In other words, I did my share of dirty dishes, dirty diapers, laundry and Hamburger Helper back in the days.

Maybe you are like me. I wasn't even aware that my life was filled with abuse until I was ion the thick of it trying to literally save my life.
Usually, you aren't "just in the middle of it one day".
One day may have started when you were a child. Maybe your self esteem and soul were never validated. You weren't allowed to say no because you were female and therefore somehow less important or valuable. You grew up never knowing how to say no because simply you were never taught. Or like in my case, if I dared to say know there were serious repercussions. Some how, somewhere deep inside me there was a tiny dot of independence, survival, and indignant at injustice. I rebelled regardless of the consequences.
I would stand up for my siblings even if I got beat down.
My integrity and character were always in question as if I was the lowest of the low because I dared to stand up to my father. It meant I was going to get the razor strap but it was like the issue was that important. He had other techniques that would lock someone up today for child abuse but was not how it was handled in those days.
He wasn't wrong, I was. I should be more compliant so he wouldn't abuse me.
That set me up for thinking " it's all my fault". All the standard lines abusers use started back in early childhood and if that's all you know it's normal to you. Not pleasant, but normal.
I loved my Dad til the day he died. I saw not just the ugly part of him but the great parts of him. As I got older I learned about the whole man and why he was who he was.
Today, I can't excuse his behavior or say one good thing about it. It was despicable to treat your child, your daughter as he did. He was my role model, my hero. He was the standard by which I would judge all men in my future. if the man who supposedly loved you first and most treated you a certain way surely it was OK if other men in your life treated you the same. No, no, no, no, no. It's wrong. Stinking thinking.
I didn't have have anyone to tell me it's wrong but I'm here now to tell you it's wrong.

I married an abusive, alcoholic man. Really, nothing surprising about it. I did what so many women in my situation do. Somehow, because he was going to college made him seem not so violent and my parents only criteria for him was that he was a " good Catholic boy who was getting an education".
Never, not once was I ever told to marry for love and nothing else. I was never told to to not compromise, to not " settle for".
The few times I ever let on that my husband was abusing me to my parents it became my fault. If I would just shut my mouth, if I would quit making waves, If I would just settle down" as if the abuse was caused by me. It never had anything to do with the abuser.

I'm here to tell you you will never satisfy the abuser. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever be enough. It isn't about you, it's about him (and sometimes her). It's his character flaw, his stinking thinking, his screwed up head, his sociopathic behavior. You need to know he doesn't have a conscience even though he may cry and be " sorry" for harming you after it's over. He really wants to believe it at the time. But, it's not true.
It WILL happen again. And again. And again. The statistics say so. Don't be a fool like me and think somehow you aren't a statistic. You are. No fairy came and hit you on the head with her magic wand and saved you from the statistics regardless how much you want to deny it. In fact, the denial is part of the statistics.
Only until you surround yourself with other victims and especially survivors will you know exactly how ordinary in the scope of abuse your situation is.
Domestic violence knows no social, economic, religious, spiritual,or racial background. Abusers can be male and female. They can be black, white, yellow and red. They can have slanted Asian eyes, brown eyes of Hispanic descent, blue eyes of Nordic descent. They can be fat, skinny, in between.
They can be tall or short or average.
They can be a man of the cloth, your letter carrier, your doctor, your next door neighbor, your child's teacher or soccer coach. It could be your mechanic or plumber, your gardener, your medical assistant at the doctors office, your nail technician, your beautician. it could be your police chief, your mayor, your congressman, your judge.
No one kind of person is exempt. No one income level is exempt. No prestigious position makes one exempt.

When I married my second husband I was thought he was the one who would never hurt me. Although he never physically harmed me he emotionally scarred me. He played the game of telling me what I wanted to hear before we were married. After the ring went on the finger it changed and changed drastically.
I honestly didn't know that his withholding affection, flirting with other women, never being there in a crisis unless I forced the issue, ignoring me as if I didn't exist,(that's one of the worst forms of abuse, btw) were forms of abuse. I just thought he was a cad which he was but I never saw him as abusive because he never physically harmed me.

Circumstances changed and we separated and later divorced. I had an on/off again relationship with the worst abuser of my life.
See, not only does the abusers sickness progress but yours does too. By that time I was beaten down mentally. I was sick and exhausted mentally and physically. Oscar saw me coming. It was like I had a neon light over my head. I was easy prey.
At first he was thoughtful, kind, caring, loving, fun and made me laugh which I hadn't done in a long time.
I thought his "protectiveness" of me was cute, charming and loveable. I didn't realize it was disguised as obsession, manipulation and control.
Later, the hands that had been so kind harmed and hurt me in ways I never thought would be possible from him. The voice that had been so reassuring and caring at first later spewed the most hateful, hurtful,soul scarring words that depleted any dignity I had.
Eventually, this person I thought I would spend my life with, had agreed to marry at one point almost killed me, more than once. I had to develop a strategy for escaping and it took months. I literally had to fear for my life every day, 24 hours a day because I never knew what the next word I would say, the next look I had on my face, even sleeping would set him off. I spent my days anticipating his next and every move only to be foiled over and over again.
And as statistics say it became more frequent and more violent.

Please don't stay if anything I've said rings a chord within yourself. If you see yourself or someone you know in my words call a Domestic Violence hot line or a Women's Center ans ask for help.
You are important, yes, you are worth it. You matter. Be your own best friend. What would you tell a best friend who was living your experience?

I am living proof that you aren't ever too old to help yourself. I was past 50 years old when I escaped to a domestic violence shelter with only the clothes on my back, literally.
It wasn't easy. I had to face a lot about myself I didn't like. I had to see my past for what it was.
When I was first at the shelter I was on a 45 day suicide watch. I was empty inside, void of any feelings, good or bad. I no longer cared. I just wanted life to be over because all I ever knew was this and I no longer wanted to live out " this".

Through the persistence and counseling of very well trained, caring individuals and some were st angers I'll never meet but were benevolent I was taught I could trust again. I could trust myself and others.
It took a long time to believe there were men out there who valued women and cherished the,
God blessed me with one. He came into my life unexpectedly when I wasn't looking and I lead the most extraordinary ordinary life today. I am genuinely happy, content, loved, appreciated, trusted, admired and I laugh everyday now. Genuine good natured laughing, sometimes belly laughs for no more reason than just because I can.
I have a new circle of friendships who don't use me. I now know what true friendships are. I no longer allow toxic people in my life. I can say no and mean it.
I have the authority and final say of how I conduct my life. You can do. I encourage you to embark on a new journey to save yourself.

There is a saying that I agree with; Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Happy Birthday to My Mom! (guest post)

Today is my Mom's birthday. Like most folks, she was born at a very early age. ;) She's documented many aspects of her life on this blog, and I am very deeply, sincerely proud that God chose her to be my Mom.

I'd like to share a story that was a turning point in my relationship with her.

I remember a big bump we had when I was 15 years old. My sister and I were staying with her that summer in Texas. I became really upset with something she had done that seemed unfair, or it was simply a culmination of things.

I was so mad that I yelled at her and ran away for awhile. I knew I'd come back, but I just needed to be away from her for awhile.

I wound up walking to the neighborhood church. After about 45 minutes of being gone, I went back to her home.

She was waiting for me. I knew I was in for a good talking-to, and I just resented her. But I wanted to be respectful, so I just glared at her for awhile as she rebuked me for running off like I'd done.

I don't really remember specifics. I just remember knowing that my Mom really cared for me, that I'd scared her by running off, and that whatever it was that I was mad at her for wasn't really that important.

I guess in some way, I'd worked out any resentment or bitterness I'd had. Ever since that moment in Texas, I've been really close to my Mom.

Even though she's lived thousands of miles away for most of my life.

I love you, Mom!

"If you'd never been born, well what would you be?
You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!
You might be a door knob! Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes!
Or worse than all that... why, you might be a
A Wasn't has no fun at all. No, he doesn't.
A Wasn't just isn't. He just isn't present.
But you... you ARE YOU! And now, isn't that pleasant!"

-- Dr. Seuss, from Happy Birthday To You!, via QuotesBlog

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hummingbirds may be racists; finches may be sexist

In our limited experience and non-membership in the Audubon Society Bob and I have made the decision that it appears hummingbirds are racist and finches are sexist.
Some may say we have way too much time on our hands but it's what you do with the time that is important, right?

Let me give you some background. We have two hummingbird feeders, one off the back patio and one off the front porch.
There is a ruby throated hummingbird that I have named "little chit" instead of the other word. He has taken control of the back feeder.
He sits as a sentry on the chicken wire fence around the green bean plants from as early as 6:30 AM til dark. I mean, if someone needs to get a life, it's him. Seriously.

As soon as any other type hummingbird gets within 20 ft of that feeder he attacks them. It becomes an episode of Snoopy and the Red Baron.
He swoops in with racing speeds of up to 220 miles an hour (I admit I haven't actually clocked it) chasing away any other hummingbird, fly, bee or even a finch.
I have seen almost turf wars out on the patio; I might even be risking my life to do this research, I'm telling ya.
I think some of the Anna's are sort of on to little chit now though. This past week I've seen sometimes maybe 10 come in from different angles and fly around just to get him pi$$ed off.
He can't attack all of them at a time so it is amusing to watch. However, being on the patio while this is taking place can be hair raising or close to hair removing.
They swoop, swirl, sweep and make dive bombing strides at lil chit.

I have no opinion who is better, the Anna's or the ruby throated. I am only an observer.
I give kudos to lil chit for handling his turf so readily and without compromise.

However, the Anna's live by the motto originally made by Rodney King. You know the one, " why can't we all just get along"?
I see often 3-4 Anna's at the front feeder at a time. If even just one is feeding it doesn't get upset if another one comes by to feed. it almost seems the more the merrier in their little group of green chicks, I mean birds.
This is very scientific and I can only hope you appreciate the effort that went into this research; I know the Anna's are friendlier because science backs it up. The front feeder can empty in one day, the back one can take 3-4 days to empty.

Once in an occasional while the Anna's gang up and take over the back feeder for a little while( probably a clue the front feeder is empty now that I think about it). But don't think little chit is happy about it because he isn't-at all, and he makes himself clear.

Now, about the finches. We have taken the hard work away from all you who have to still get out to j-o-b everyday and don't have the time to research this as we do. No, really it's ok. OK, you're welcome!

Let me start with saying finches are one of the greediest animals I've met. You can fill a finch feeder and the next day it has to be filled again. Of course, if Lou next door would keep his filled maybe ours would last a few hours longer!

The real pretty yellow ones are males, right? Well, let me tell you someone needs to teach them about manners and how vinegar doesn't catch the worm or whatever the saying is.
Oh, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar and the early bird catches the worm. Sorry Mom, I didn't think I'd ever forget them. I must be getting old.

Anyway, I digress. That happens when you get old. you also get more gas. Wait a minute where am I going with this.
The finches. OK so the females which are the less pretty but I'm sure more stable of the two are sitting on the perches feeding, minding their own business. Along come a flock of bad boys all pumped on well, finch food I guess, cuz I haven't read about any on steroids yet pushing the womanz off their perches.
I mean come on fellas, these are your baby Mama's after all.

Some females are passive and will just go to a nearby branch and wait their turn but there are a few that must be the bitches because they put up a fight. They get their wings in the way and move around and squawk like there's no tomorrow. I cheer them on.
Like who do those fellas think they are; I mean they aren't that and a bag of chips you know. If you've seen one or two you've seen them all in my opinion. I mean yeah, they're cute, tiny and all that yellow but come on.

Now some other late breaking news: our quail couple has given birth to 14 babies this week. They are just adorable. Mom struts first in line and clucks. then each of the babies follows and Dad brings up the rear.
Bob observed them a couple days ago. Dad was hanging around the garage clucking and finally went inside. Out comes JR running his tiny little 1/16 of an inch legs off. Dad kept shooing him back to the covey.
All total they couldn't be even an inch tall. Just as cute as you want them to be.

A couple weeks ago we had a Mama doe give birth to twin fawns. I have yet to see them but a couple neighbors right near the woods have. The woods id a couple doors down from me in the back. I did see Mama right after birth hunting up some grub but didn't know why she was out there. She was in the neighbors behind me yards eating branches and anything else she could get her teeth on or into. From the time line when I saw however we calculated she had just given birth. I guess I would be pretty hungry too if I were her.

So, that's springtime here in Oroville so far. Hope yours is just as rewarding as ours have been.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Ok, again it's been awhile since I posted. I am really going to try to update more frequently.

A couple weeks ago we had Bob's cousins'(The Cuz) handyman come over and till up the back 40 here. Then we added horse manure courtesy of Star, Marty's horse.
I had a set of 9 heirloom tomatoes coming from QVC and was excited to get them in the ground. Well, only 2 made it after transplanting so we went to a local nursery and bought a bunch more.
I recommend in the future not to buy edible plants from anywhere but your local nursery.
Bob and Lou(next door) ordered a set of tomato/potato plants from another catalog place. They are surviving but not really healthy.
It's an interesting concept isn't it?; a tomato plant on top and red potatoes growing underground.

I've also planted about 35 green bean seeds and have a few more to start in a couple weeks. I staggered the planting so we could harvest in spurts. The first 18 are in a whiskey barrel we used before the back 40 got tilled.
Then I planted cucumber seeds, lettuce seeds and transplants I started in a container a couple weeks before tilling.
The cuke seeds aren't cooperating;I may have to get some more.
I saw a couple cantaloupe plants the other day I may just have to go get them and find some room somewhere.

I got a set of 3 rose bushes from QVC about a month ago and they are doing real well. Actually, I have two of them and gave one to Melissa to take back to Hayward. Jon will plant it in his Mom's rose garden when he returns from Iraq in June. It will be a memorial rose since she died in late January.
I still haven't decided where my roses will go. I'm thinking of making them memorial roses too,one for Bob's side of the family and one for mine.
They are a gorgeous pink color on long stems.

It's getting warmer here in northern California. It warmed up a couple weeks ago to low 90's then dipped into 50's and 60's for about a week to 10 days, not today it's going into the 80's again.
Spring has sprung methinks.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Visit to Cincinnati

It's been awhile since I last posted. I've been in a deep depression I figured out and was confirmed by my doc last week.
So much has happened since then.

The most significant thing that happened is that Walt didn't make it.He died November 28th. He passed away knowing he was going in for the transplant but he never recovered consciousness. His infections were fatal;a result of the mechanical heart being in too long.
If only a donor had been found sooner maybe he would be alive today.
I can't emphasise enough to sign donor cards or your drivers license,make your wishes known and sign a medical directive or as it's more commonly known, a Living Will.

It was heart wrenching when Ken called and told me he and Julie had decided to take their Dad off life support. We had all talked about it and Walt made his wishes known to the kids before he even went into the hospital and Ken and I had discussed it on the phone several times however when the decision is made and there is no turning back it's devastating.
I can't imagine the kids' feelings at that time. I support them 100% and no one could have had their Dad's interest at heart more than them.
What a wonderful legacy he and Janet left behind in Ken and Julie.
The most amazing brother/sister team I've witnessed.

I went back home to Cincinnati for Walt's funeral. He was buried the day after what would have been his 60th birthday.
I was shocked to see how much my brother suffered evidenced by the bruises left on his body.
He was so thin.And gray. My brother used to have the most full head of brown hair. I know we all age and get gray but his was almost white. Another witness to the suffering his body went through.

I admire we Mitchell's for one thing if nothing else. We pull together when needed.
Something Walt would be proud of but pass off as nothing he had to do with it is that we all came together and let bygones be bygones.
We became a real family again if not the first time in some ways.
I reconnected with my oldest sister and grown nieces. What an amazing,inspiring,awesome group of women they are.
They called me "the fun Aunt"! I guess because I smoked, drank, cussed, told jokes and don't take myself too serious.
Each one remembered something of their youth that I was part of and told me.
You never know what an impact you are having when you are doing but it is inspiring to know you encouraged someone so close to you.
My sister did an amazing job raising her 8 kids alone. And those kids love their Mom so much.

I got to see Dan,Jennie and Keisha while I was there and stayed with them one night. Dan and Keisha were in a play at church so I got to go see them which was a treat. Keisha has become so grown up.
No longer is she the little girl she was when I lived with them in Dayton.
I just love her to pieces and she does me.
Dan and Jennie have done a fine job of raising her through some difficult times.

The only dark spot on the whole trip was when Steph showed up at the funeral home. Looking back,I don't even know why she came.
She had told Mandy on the phone she barely remembered her Uncle Walt.She's had nothing to do with my side of the family including her siblings for years.

I actually got excited when I saw her; you'd think by now I'd know better.I'm the eternal optimist though.
I was talking to some family members and she walked up so I said hello. She couldn't have been more snippy if she tried.
It was not quite so much as embarrassing as it was disgusting. I no longer think that the actions of my children are a reflection of me now that they are all grown and adults living on their own.
I was sad that Steph didn't bring Hanna. Most of us haven't seen her in years. I last saw her when she was 7 and she will be 13 in a couple months. Really, really sad.
Steph probably wasn't at the funeral home more than 5 minutes. I'm not even sure if she properly p-aid her respects to Ken and Julie.
She really showed her butt though and family members who once thought I might be exaggerating her treatment of me and her haughtiness found out who she really was.
I have no idea why that child hates me or as much as she does.I wonder if she even knows anymore.
I told her at the casket after she snipped at me when I mentioned how Uncle Walt suffered I wasn't worth hating that much.
I did cry. I cried for the relationship I wished we had and for her because she apparently is so troubled inside herself. My family made the comment she appears to be a functioning mental health case.
She has always been delusional about ideas that she thinks happened to her.She manufactured things in her mind and then played the victim. She has done this since she was a toddler.
All I can do is pray for her.

Had the whole family not spent the brief time we had together reacquainting ourselves and moving forward it may not have so apparent how Steph was acting.
Little did she know she could have been a part of a bigger loving family if she would have let her defenses down.

Tom didn't make it because apparently he is a high functioning drunk. My oh my how the years can change things. At one time Tom was the poster boy.He was the one Dad wanted us to aspire to be. He was the "successful" one.
And Barb called me before I left California to say she couldn't be there. She doesn't feel like we are her family and isn't close like we want her to be.
I can't dispute her feelings but yet I know her perception is wrong.
I actually began suspecting she may have some autistic tendencies after talking with her.
It would explain some things.
Then there is Pauline. Who knows where she is?
I tried finding her the whole time Walt was sick and couldn't. I don't know where she is but I guess she doesn't care that we don't know because she hasn't contacted anyone for at least 5 years. If nothing else Mary and Dave live in the same house and have the same number and are listed so there really isn't an excuse.

There has been a lot to process and figure out since all this has happened. My doc says I'm still in the anger stage slowly moving into denial. I thought I was into acceptance but maybe I'm not.
I do know I am still mourning. Mourning for my brother and parts of my life that should have been different but aren't.

Spring is coming and that means new life and rebirth. A cleansing of the heart, mind and soul if you will.
I welcome it with open arms. I will get past this.I know that if I know nothing else.

Monday, November 26, 2007

feeling disconnected

I received an e-mail from my sister this morning and after reading it,I just feel disconnected somehow.
Here is the e-mail which describes my brother's condition at present.

HI Marge,
Just got time for a quick note, I’m already late leaving for work.
Walt is about as critical as you imagined. There are at least 9 IV medications going, all on monitors, He has a continuous EEG checking his brain waves, they are sedating him and want to make sure he doesn’t get too sedated. He has chest tubes draining his chest. ,there is a tube down his throat draining his stomach. He is on a ventilator. There is a bandage covering his chest, but you can see the heart moving under it. It’s weird cause it is really loud, usually you can’t hear a heart beating.
He has a nurse sitting at the foot of his bed watching him constantly. I asked the nurse about the bleeding, she said it wasn’t unusual after they have been on the artificial heart, they have to administer blood thinners and it takes the body a while to recover it’s clotting ability. He had 22 units in surgery and 10 post op.

Yesterday before we left we visited for a couple of minutes. He was a little less sedated, and he was moving his hands and feet a little bit, but never opened his eyes. He is having trouble maintaining his blood pressure, it was 84/42 while we were there, and that was with medicine to keep it up. They are trying to wean the medicine because it is limiting his circulation to his feet, so his feet are mottled purple.

Julie and Ken are real troopers, Julie has been home only about 10 days in the last 3 months. She challenges the doctors when she doesn’t agree with something. Ken said one time they were wheeling him to surgery and she said, I think he has a fever, and the nurse said No he was fine. Julie said Humor me, check his temperature again, and it was 102.8. So they cancelled the surgery that day.

The heart they gave him was a 30 year old, but that is all they would say. The doctor that is overseeing his care, told Ken, “we were really particular that it be a young and fit heart, b/c we knew it was going to really have to work hard to keep your Dad alive”. His heart rate has been in the 120’s for days.

We had a nice visit on Saturday nite, went out to dinner and they back to the hotel lobby where Ken set up a Wii game and we played for 3 hours. It was really nice to reconnect with both of them.

Well , got to go, Keep praying. Walt goes to surgery today to close his chest.

In years past when someone in the family was critically ill, mainly my Mom and Dad we siblings would rally around the one who was ill and support each other.
Situations are such most of us can't do this for Walt.
Some days I wonder if it would make a difference in his recovery if we could do that. Maybe not,buy you wonder.
If he could hear our voices, feel our touch, listen to our memories would it help make him well?

I feel so bad for my neice and nephew to shoulder the burden alone,although they would never see it or call it a burden.I guess what I mean by burden is the extreme weight of carrying the load just between the two of them;the decisions that have to be made,the time spent away from home.

I feel so helpless on the other side of the country and can do nothing physically to help.

I am feeling disconnected from my siblings.There is one I haven't been able to find and another that I leave messages with who doesn't answer calls.

My oldest sister relays the messages to our youngest brother who relays them to the oldest brother.

I e-mail all those I can. I guess I'm missing the physical connection we all had spending time with each other at the hospital in times of crisis.

No one had to explain a history;we all knew the history.These people were the witness of my life spent up to that point and I was to theirs.

This is the first sibling we've had to deal with such a serious illness and the possibility of losing.I don't think any of us are ready to lose our brother.I know I'm not.

I am optimistic of Walt's recovery.I have to be.However, what a process this for all of us to learn patience and faith in the waiting.It is surely a lesson in learning that all things happen in God's time and His isn't Eastern,Central,Mountain or Pacific.

I feel like I am in a fog today. Like I'm going through the motions but not really involved,therefore disconnected.

It's as if I am anticipating something but don't know what the something is yet.

All I can really do is pray and pray I have, earnestly.And almost everyone who knows me is praying with us.

Jesus said, "wherever two or more are gathered in my name there I shall be".I picture all of us praying for Walt crowded in his room and we feel the power of the Holy Spirit working and filling us with his love and promise.

I guess these are my thoughts today as we await another report later today.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thoughts of my brother

Some may know my brother Walt has been very sick and fighting a battle with heart disease.
He was diagnosed many years ago, maybe 20, with cardiomyopathy. This is the same thing my Mother contracted and died from, my oldest brother has it and Walt's son has been diagnosed with it.

Walt became very ill last December and was admitted to Christ Hospital in Cincinnati several times. Eventually the doctors there could do no more for him and arrangements were made for him to go to the Cleveland Clinic to await a heart transplant. This was last July.

Walt has had a rough row to hoe since he's been there.
Early on he was to be transplanted but as it turned out the donor heart was a good match but an unhealthy heart.
He was having lots of ups and downs, sometimes more downs than ups.
Eventually, his heart was sick enough and no donor heart available so they removed all but a small section of his diseased heart to hook him up to a mechanical heart, which we call his artificial heart.
One of the side effects of the mechanical heart is serious infection which he developed.

After the mechanical heart, which by the way is a huge machine almost 5 ft tall that would sit at the foot of his bed and wires and tubes connected inside his chest, he lost over 100 lbs of fluid that had built up inside his body from the heart not functioning.

Soon after that he was able to get on a treadmill and begin a limited exercise program to rebuild his strength. I would call him and it was astounding the change in his voice.
At first he was so weak he sounded like a 90 yr old man barely able to talk.
By late last week he was just about his old self again.

Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, he was transplanted with a donor heart. We assume the donor was a male between the ages of 30-35 because that's what we were told would be what the surgeons and transplant team felt would be best for him.

Almost immediately after transplantation he developed serious complications. He was bleeding profusely and required 20 litres of blood that day. When they opened him up they discovered the infection was much worse than they expected to find. He developed a high fever and his white blood count was very high.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, he became more ill. He became extremely septic and they put him on dialysis, risking his kidneys to save his life.They were giving him megadoses of every antibiotic they could which could blow out his kidneys.
We were told to prepare for the worst.

It was a somber Thanksgiving for all the Mitchell's. His son and daughter were at the hospital alone waiting for news of their Dad instead of home having a happy celebration with their families.
I tried to focus on what there was to be thankful for and there were many things I thought of.

I live a good life;I live in a free country and because of that enjoy freedoms others don't have;I have healthy children and grandchildren; although I may not be as healthy as I could be my ailments are not life threatening;I have access to good medical care and medicine;I have a really great guy in my life who treats me like a queen;I have a beautiful home in a great neighborhood,with many terrific neighbors who have become friends;I get to volunteer at a place that is spectacularly beautiful and have great people that I volunteer with;I get to go back in time to history of the 1850's and recreate events for the folks who visit and especially the children. I have been able to travel;I have had some utterly sad things happen to me however I've learned great lessons so I value these as well. I have an internet community of friends that couldn't be closer even though most of us have never met and never will.They even included my brother and our family in their Thanksgiving blessings.
These are the things I focused on during my Thanksgiving day.

I've thought about my brother a lot of course in the recent months.I guess when you are threatened with losing someone from your life you tend to do that.otherwise,we tend to just take people for granted and think they'll always be there and we'll get to them tomorrow. It's when we get close too running out of tomorrows that realize how precious someone else's life is to our own.

My earliest memories of my brother are of sharing time with our dog,Lady who was an apricot colored cocker spaniel.
She was such a good dog, my best friend at that time.
There used to be a picture of Pat(my oldest sister), Walt, myself and Lady on the front porch of our childhood home.I'm guessing I was not quite 2, so Walt would have been maybe 7. It must have been in the fall because we were bundled up in heavy jackets and had headscarves and hats on. There was no snow on the ground and I don't recall we were wearing mittens or gloves.

Other memories of Walt that aren't so good was when he was drowning turtles my sisters and I had found downstairs in the stationary tub in the basement. He would kill snails with salt or a magnifying glass in the summer,he would fight with me every chance he had.Physically fight.
One time, I guess I must have been maybe 13,on a Saturday morning I changed the TV channel to something we younger kids were used to watching.Walt was usually working on Saturday mornings and I don't remember why he was home that day.Maybe he was sick.
He became so angry with me for changing the channel he got up and started choking me. Honest to God, bona fide strangling me.
My Mom came in the room and was yelling at him to stop, hitting his arms and he kept up. I was turning blue and losing consciousness and finally he quit.

He would skip school at the Polumbo Apartments where his girlfriend Janet (who later became his wife) lived at the time. He would make fun of me for going to school.
Later when I was skipping and got caught and my Dad was ashamed of me "because no one in our family EVER skipped school" I kept my mouth shut about Walt.To my Dad's dying day I don't think he ever knew.

Walt did some other unkind things to me that were abusive but I don't want to discuss them.
As teens we didn't have a very nice or happy existence.
I recall as if it was yesterday the morning he was leaving for Ft. Benning,GA when he was drafted.
This was during the Vietnam era and I realized my brother could be killed at war.
Real life came into clear focus that morning. I didn't hate my brother,I hated the things he did.
We sat at the bottom of the steps in the hallway and talked for awhile.
We both forgave each other perceived wrongs and made a truce that has lasted to this day.
That was in August,1968.

He came home on leave in December,1968 to get married to Janet and I was in the wedding. he left January 2nd for Germany. Janet joined him in February and they lived there when Ken was born the next February and she came home when Ken was few months old and Walt came home shortly after.
I was married the following October, Halloween night to be exact and my then husband and myself and Walt and Janet became best friends.
We lived within a few blocks of each other and within a few blocks of our parents,and my oldest sister.
Being around family was an everyday occurrence.
Actually, Janet and I were friends since I was 13 yrs old until she passed away a few years ago.

I admit I wasn't in contact as much with my brother those next years as I should have been. I did call a few times but few and far between.
I lived far away and like other things in life,one day turns into the next,one week turns into the next and then it's months and years. You always think there is going to be tomorrows.

My brother is the type that everyone considers friendly. Once you've met him you don't forget him.
I can't tell you the times we'd be out together and he would run into someone he knew in the service, someone he knew in school, someone he knew through a job.

For a few years he had a beer route out in the suburbs where we all eventually moved when we bought homes.
He was much loved and well thought of on his beer route. he serviced his customers as he would have wanted to be serviced had the shoe been on the other foot.
He was more than conscience. I wish I knew how many Sundays I saw him in stores on his route checking his displays, going to the back room to add to the displays when the product was dwindling.
I don't think I've ever heard someone talk trash about him his whole adult life.

I've been told by Ken even his coworkers from Kroger's warehouse and bottling plant where he eventually worked after the beer route have sent him cards and good wishes. They call and check up on him and he hasn't worked there in more than a year.

I would know anywhere my brother's voice;he has always as long as I can remember had this tic of clearing his throat while he talks.
Another memory I have of him when we were real little,I guess maybe he was 6-7 yrs old so I would have been 2-3. For some reason he needed to spell the word Carlotta.There was a family across with that name.
For whatever reason he got on the phone and called the operator. I can still hear it.
"I am just a little boy and I don't know how to spell Carlotta". That became a family joke for years and years and years. He hated it but we loved it.

In high school somehow someone gave him the nickname "Moose". I don't recall how it got started but he hated that too. Of course, knowing he hated it I called him that every chance I could. Sisters are like that.

One of the most special memories I have of my brother and my sister-in-law was when I was going through the first divorce. My soon to be ex had kidnapped my kids from me and was suing for custody. To say I was despondent would be an understatement.
At this point Janet concocted this idea for me.Walt and her to go kidnap my kids back.
We thought out the plan. Walt was off because it had snowed and iced that morning. they had an old station wagon.
So off we went to the exes house and I knew he had the lady next door watching my kids. She was supposed to be a friend of mine but I guess she liked being his mistress more.
I knew we had no more than 10 minutes to get the kids and any stuff out of the exes house before he would have been called at work and gotten home.
While I was inside Diane's house grabbing my kids, threatening to kill her if she tried to stop me, Walt and Janet were scurrying through my old house gathering items I had written down for the kids and placing them in the back of their car.
At just the right moment we jumped back into the car and headed to my apartment and got inside and locked the door.
Sure enough, pound,pound, pound on the door. The soon to be ex was fuming. I had outsmarted him and he didn't think I had it in me.
Possession was 9/10ths of the law for the custody case. I had possession.
I will be forever grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for helping me that day.
After Big Dan left we hurried out to the car and got all the stuff inside and then they went home. Me and my kids were safe.

So many memories of being together. They'd come to my house,we go to theirs.
We watched the kids grow up. We joined forces to help my Dad when he was sick.
So many memories.

I pray today that Walt is allowed to get better and go home and reunite with his family and friends and we are able to make new memories.
He and I have already talked about him visiting me here in California. he and his Yorkie, Mitch.
Maybe other family members will visit with him too.
We still have lots of living to do.I'm not ready for my brother to be gone from my life but will accept it if the Good Lord decides to take him Home.
He will be missed. he will be mourned.
And he would be embarrassed that he was.
He wouldn't want to believe he had that effect on so many people.

If anyone reading this believes in miracles and the power of prayer,please believe in a miracle and pray for my brother and his family.
We want him home for Christmas and we believe with god, all things ARE possible.

For four months now my brother hasn't eaten at a table, showered or gone to the bathroom by himself in private, smelled fresh air, felt the sunshine, heard raindrops,pet his dog, worn street clothes. His view has been of a new building being contrustected next to the building he's in.

I believe he should be healthy and go home and poop scoop drop droppings, shovel snow,rake leaves, clean his refrigerator and toilet, pay the sky high prices for gas. he should be able to complain about the high cost of food, the high price of heating his home.
He should be able to cheer on his grandson at a football game, be made to have tea parties with his granddaughter.
He should have to endure long phone conversations with me.
He should have to mow his lawn next spring and water his flowers.
In other words he should have a normal life like everyone else.

I pray our heavenly Father sees it this way too. If not, I know Janet and my Mom and Dad will be waiting for him as he crosses over and that is the way it will have to be. I will have to be thankful for no more suffering and that he has peace.

I love you Walt and am selfish that I want you around for another 20 years.