A Testimony of Unconditional Love, Understanding, Time and Forgiveness
By, Kathy Todd Stallo
Introduction page 1
Wait For Me At The Gate page 2-
The Fantasy I Created Was Crashing Around Me page 3
The Left Handed Fatter Twin With The chipped Tooth page 4
Forgiving Mom page 6
Kath, You Have A Very Forgiving Heart page 8
Forgive Over and Over page 9
Forgiveness page 11
Meeting Prince Charming page 12
Our Three Sons Plus One page 15
Funny Story page 17
Our Year of Tragedies page 20
Application Computer Systems page 24
1016 Hobby Lane page 25
My House My Home page 26
Why Mother’s Cry page 28
Prince Charming Fell Off The White Horse page 29
Trusting Me page 31
Gifts From God page 32
Being Saved page 34
Walking Alone page 35
When God Sends You an Angel page 36
They Just Are page 38
Part Two Thanksgiving page 39
The First Funny, Yes Sir! page 41
I Will Not Cry If You Don’t Be Crabby! Deal! page 42
The First Day of the Rest of His Life page 44
Your Baber Is Here page 45
How Are You Feeling, Mr.Stallo page 48
Hope For Today page 49
The Thread of Hope page 51
What Does That Have To Do With It? Page 52
The Papaw Cry Club page 53
Dear God Letter page 54
Making Donkey Noises page 55
To Our Four Sons.. I Remember page 56
My Dad’s Tears page 58
The Two Promises page 59
Spiritual Warfare page 60
Tough Day page 61
A Good Day page 62
A Great Night Of Laughs page 63
Back To The Hospital page 65
Homeward Bound page 66
A Beautiful Love Story page 68
Having a Purpose page 69
Nicodemus page 73
Thank God You Told Me That Story page 75
Letting Go page 76
You Remember Me page77
Denial Minimize Fix page78
Day To Day page 79
The Last Days page 80
March 16, 2012 page 81
Fear page 83
Handling From The Heart page 84
If I Die Before I Wake page 85
My Faith In You page 86
Encouragement page 88
Life Goes Fast page 89
Be Still And Know That I Am page 90
The Open Door page 91
Day To Day page 92
We Both Will Be Waiting At The Gate page 95
Special Moments page 97
The Chapters Of Life page 100
Good Times Mom page 101
The Priest page 102
To Our Four Sons To Pass On To Their Children page 103
A Tribute Too Our Five Beautiful Grandchildren page 107
Feeling His Presence page 108
A Dear God Letter …June10, 2012 page 109
In His Memory page 110
A Friend From The Past page 112
Family Faith And Friends page 114
Family Faith And Friends, The Song page 115
A Special Thanks To Anderson Hospital page 116
The Hospital Pastor, Michael Babbington page 117
Notes From Readers page 118
Come and sit at my table for awhile. I will fix you a cup of my special coffee and we will just chat. I want to share with you my endearing story of love and forgiveness. I do love to tell my God Stories.
I have written this story as if you were reading entries from several of my journals. The span of years are 1950—2012. -It is a combination of endearing stories, “funnies,” letters and poems from my book, Having Coffee with God. Some of the chapters of my story are the realities that I had to face. It was not written to blame anyone or point fingers. It is a story of how I came to understand why I was so lost and how I truly found me.
WAIT FOR ME AT THE GATE
March 16, 2012 “Wait for me at the gate, like you promised. You can hold our baby . Well … until I get there, then it is my turn.” Those were the last words I said to Mike. The love of my life for forty- two years. Father of our four boys , Pop to our five grandchildren. He died March 16, 2012. Way to early! He was only 63 years old.
I was blessed to be there for him the last three months of his life. You see, Mike had left our marriage in 1997, MIDLIFE !! We had not lived together for fifteen years. Although, we both had gone on with our lives in many ways, we shared a mutual respect for each other, and we still had a bond. Oh! He could make me so mad, and could hurt my heart to the core. But , I never stopped loving him. This story is beyond Mike. It is beyond me. It is beyond us. It is truly about our precious Lord Jesus Christ – what He can do in all circumstances, in His timing.
1989 THE FANTASY I CREATED WAS CRASHING AROUND ME!
I knew “Prince Charming” was leaving our marriage. The fantasy that I had created since I was a little girl was crashing around me. Loving him or begging, was not fixing it. But I SHOULD know how to fix it. I could forgive him. I loved him unconditionally, why would he leave me?
I had been in a car accident and I had major surgery. I could not do anything physically; therefore, reality was setting in. I was losing my husband to midlife and I was losing myself; I was breaking. I was trying so hard to pretend it would go back into the fantasy I created. Cinderella, Prince Charming, Happily ever after. What I wanted more than anything was my family. I never needed the bells and whistles. I simply wanted someone to love me and have a family intact.
Where was the true me in this entangled mess of mixed messages? I hit the floor in despair, and could not pretend I was fine anymore. I cried out to God. I did not know what to do. I truly heard Him say: ‘”Take the trust out of him and put it in Me.” I was dying from a broken heart and asking Jesus into my heart was the beginning of a beautiful journey of healing. But, first He had to take me backwards in my life to find me.
1950 THE LEFT HANDED FATTER TWIN, WITH THE CHIPPED TOOTH!
Going backwards before I could go forwards was a first step in my healing journey. I was one of three girls. Susan was the oldest. Karen and I were identical twins. We were born when Susan was not quite three years old. Mom’s favorite story was when Susan was three years old she would help her feed us. The entire time she would say, “I hate these twins.” I believed for years that she did hate us. According to mom, Karen was the smart, talented, gifted twin. She played the piano by ear at age two and a half. She would grow up and become a nurse. Mom would call her my little mother.
I was labeled the left -handed, fatter twin, with the chipped tooth who did not quite get it. Mom always said that I was backwards. After all, I was the only left- handed person in the family. I process from the right side of my brain. The rest of the family were right handed and processed , from the left side of their brain . I also had learning disabilities, but I was not diagnosed until 1990, at the age of forty. In the 50’s and 60’s parents and teachers were not aware of the affects learning disabilities had on a child. Therefore, they could not understand why I didn’t get it in school like Karen did, and neither did I! It was engrained into me as far back as I can remember that I must not be trying hard enough. Oh! but I was funny. I certainly did not feel funny. Honestly, I was an angry little girl. When they would laugh at me I would cry, and say “but I am not laughing.”
Mom was lost in her world of depression, prescription drugs, and alcohol to hide her childhood grief. Dad tried to fix it all, and when he could not, his frustration and anger turned into rage. His rage was certainly scary. His solution was for us to just love our mother and pretend what happened the night before did not happen. Of course, you did what he said, and the cycle would start all over again the next day. Sadly, our family secrets became a game of manipulation, mixed- messages and pretending in our house. It was our normal.
God’s promise of hope, love, letting go, and healing my relationship with mom has taken many years. At times, it is difficult for me to remember cherished memories of my mom. Her addictions to alcohol and prescription drugs brought many adversities in my life. Through total forgiveness, I have been blessed with God’s peace.
One of my favorite memories of mom was her gift of music. She was the neighborhood piano teacher. Mom could liven up any party with her playing, and she was truly in her glory. I remember mom and dad’s friends gathering around the piano and singing while she played. She could play a mean “ Boogie Woogie.” Whether it was in Tennessee, Ohio or California, she could get a crowd to gather around with her playing. I loved to watch and listen to mom and grandma harmonize on Christmas Eve in church or sitting on a hill in Tennessee and listening to her extended family sing old gospel songs when we would go to visit.
As a little girl, to me, mom was the most beautiful woman in the world. I remember bringing a friend home after school and I would immediately go to mom’s closet and show off her gorgeous formal that she wore to dances. I loved to watch mom and dad practice the fox trot for the next dance. I loved coming home after school and telling her about my day. My heart would break for her when she would talk about her dad, the love of her life, dying suddenly from pneumonia when she was twelve. She had also lost her baby sister, who was five months old , to spinal meningitis. She felt that it was her burden to take care of her mother.
Sadly, mom had a dark side. When I was in fourth grade mom started drinking. She was already taking valuim for depression. A cocktail before dinner would become a life- long addiction. The more she drank and self-medicated, the more her mean side would surface. She was full of hate. She hated her mother. She had disdain for God because He took her father. It was our fault that we ” did not love her enough, or do enough. ”
When I was thirty years old she told me that she stuffed her feelings into alcohol and if she had to choose alcohol or her daughter, it would not be me! I loved her unconditionally and I would give up me for her to be happy. My heart also broke for my grandma. She simply wanted mom to love her…we all did. Dad lived in denial until he was diagnosed with cancer. He enabled mom and knew he was leaving us with one big mess.
When we lost dad, to cancer, mom detached from Karen and me for eighteen months. It was truly a time of healing myself. I forgave mom in my heart, but I realized my love could not fix her. It was a time when God began healing me.
KATH, YOU HAVE A VERY FORGIVING HEART
I was in fourth grade and although I don’t remember the argument but I do remember that I was mad at Linda Anderson. Mom must have seen that it really upset me. I don’t remember her talking to me about those situations, however, that day I was in the back seat of the car, leaning over the seat. Mom said, “Did you and your friend Linda make up?” I said, “Yes, I forgave her.” I will always remember mom saying, ‘Kath, you have a very forgiving heart, don’t ever forget that.” I cherished those comments because mom was so lost in her own world she rarely said those things to me.
1959 At the age of nine we moved to a new school, a new neighborhood, and eventually a new church. At the age of twelve , Karen and I were invited to go to church camp with some friends. I remember it as if it were yesterday. The last night of camp we had a campfire, they invited us to come forward if we wanted to follow Jesus. I had a deep, shy streak but inwardly I knew to walk forward, and I did. Unfortunately, when we moved to a new church, I don’t recall any teachings about our Lord Jesus. All of the Bible stories that I do remember were the Bible stories I heard in Sunday School before the age of nine. I never questioned my belief in God, I was just not aware of the intimate relationship I could have with Our Lord Jesus Christ until thirty years later.
FORGIVE OVER AND OVER AND OVER
I truly believe in forgiveness. God has truly blessed me with the knowledge of learning about true forgiveness. He leads me not only to His word but also to books written on forgiveness. I distinctly remember, for years, my definition of forgiving simply meant, ‘ all will go back to normal; the relationship would be healed and we would move forward’ I truly believed that because I wanted the relationship to continue, regardless if it was with my mom, a family member, or a friend. If it did not go back to what I thought the relationship was, it was my fault!
With God’s knowledge, I learned forgiving does not mean all is well with the other person. I learned to trust that if I forgave God’s way, He would handle it all. I believe He says… forgive over and over and over. I promise there is not a verse in the Bible that says, forgive everyone except Muffy Susie Magilicatey! I have learned God is handling the relationship in His time, and He is still working on them and on ME! I have learned if I continue to focus on God and my relationship with Him, I am learning how He wants me to handle the situation. Forgiving and loving your enemy is one of the easiest, simplest, yet the hardest things to do. It is a choice.
I learned everyone is not forgiving. However, I learned forgiveness is best for me. By forgiving, I will not carry my anger. Believe me! As God says, deep seeded angry can turn into bitterness, jealous, strife, and more. I lay my anger at the cross every night so I can focus on doing God’s work. I do not want it festering inside of me and it will. When I point my finger back at myself and ask myself, is there something I am not doing God’s way? Or, if I am criticizing someone, I think… Hmmmmmmmm . . . . have I ever done that? PROBABLY! When my anger and hurt surface I need to turn to God’s word immediately and replace my thoughts with God’s thoughts. And when I don’t forgive, it does fester within me. At times I can forgive quickly and other times it is a process of grieving. I believe God’s words. It is in His timing for my heart to heal or learn the lesson He is teaching me. It may take a lifetime and I may never understand. But, for me, He has blessed me with peace, as HE promises. The Apostle Paul says to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31:32
When you open your heart to forgive all those that abandoned you
You might be surprised whom God brings back into your life.
You may also be surprised whom HE takes out of your life
so that You depend totally on Him
September 2, 2009
By: Kathy Todd Stallo
Entry from Having Coffee with God
1971 MEETING PRINCE CHARMING
AUGUST 27, 2012 Forty-two years ago today, I met Mike.
I grew up in Dayton, Ohio. My parents had moved to California while Karen and I were attending the University of Tennessee. We missed home and our high school friends. Therefore, dad agreed we could have our first apartment for the summer in Dayton, Ohio if we earned our own rent and bought our own groceries. We were not allowed to ask Grandma for any money. We agreed.
We went home for the summer and lived in Medford Apartments on the campus of the University of Dayton. We both worked hard and stuck to our agreement. After we survived the summer, grandma surprised Karen and me with a small shopping spree. We felt we were splurging buying two outfits and a pair of new shoes . To me it was huge.
Two weeks before we were to go back to the University of Tennessee for the fall semester, Mike had returned to the University of Dayton for fall semester, and moved into Medford Apartments. I remember saying hi to him in the parking lot. Of course, I ran upstairs and told my room- mates a really cute guy was moving in. Karen and I left a few minutes later to run an errand. There was a dirt road from our apartment to the campus. (If my granddaughters ever read this, I would tell them, that was stupid to pick up a stranger). I said, “There is that guy that just moved in, I am going to ask him if he wants a ride to campus.” In those days we wore curlers all day for our date that night. Karen had curlers in her hair and she was furious with me and said, “Don’t you dare.” I am the first to say that I have some bratiness in me, and I stopped and asked him if he wanted a ride. We dropped him off two blocks later, evidently to another girl’s house he laughingly told me later. We were having a going away party for Karen and me that night so of course, I invited him and his roommates to come. ( I am known to never meet a stranger!) We ended up sitting by the pool that night getting to know each other. I remember when he told me his last name was Stallo. It took me three days to remember it and another week to learn how to pronounce it. Honestly, I was very fickle but there was something about him. I knew one day I was going to marry him.
Karen was still dating her high school boy friend, Rex. He would come down to see Karen in Tennessee, and it wasn’t long before Mike started hitching a ride with him to visit me. The following Christmas he graduated and had invited me to his home in Alexandria, Virginia to meet his family.
He came from a great family of five children. Evidently, his dad told his mother when I left. “I don’t know if Mike knows it or not, but that is the girl he is going to marry.” Mike decided to apply to the University of Tennessee Masters program, and was accepted. I was a ‘little sister’ in a fraternity, and asked a friend if they could fit another roommate into their small apartment. Mike lived on a cot in their kitchen. They all became great friends. They found a round house to rent and were his roommates for the next eighteen months. We became engaged the following summer and planned our wedding for June 10, 1972.
We returned to the University of Tennessee for the year. Mom and dad now lived in California, Mike’s parents lived in Alexandria Virginia, we were in Tennessee and the wedding was going to be in Ohio. Mom’s addictions became worse. She was not interested in helping me with planning the wedding. They gave me a budget and I started planning. Although I had no idea how to plan a wedding, I was ecstatic. Remember, in the seventies we did not have cell phones, emails, or pinterest so I just planned it around family, faith and friends.
Mike came from a huge Catholic family. Combined with my family and my parent’s friends, and their children , our cousins, aunts uncles, grandparents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews all came. It was a beautiful celebration, just how I had always dreamed it would be. We moved to Alexandria for the summer. Mike had a summer job with the government and I worked at ‘Herby’s Ford.’ We had an efficiency apartment and worked to save money so Mike could finish his master’s degree at The University of Tennessee. I would finish my degree in elementary education. Looking back, I love thinking that was our plan, but it was not God’s plan.
OUR THREE SONS PLUS ONE!
When Mike and I were dating, I started having severe abdominal pains that caused me to double over. On Mike’s insistence, I went to the medical clinic at the University. They thought I was having an appendicitis attack. I was hospitalized. It was not appendicitis, I had two, huge ovarian cysts, the size of grapefruits. They were afraid that I was looking at a total hysterectomy at the age of twenty. I was devastated. I wanted a family. What if I could not have children?
The doctor was determined to save enough ovaries in hopes that I would be able to bear children and he insisted that we did not use birth control pills. His fear was the ovary might stop functioning permanently. The ovarian cysts had caused so much damage they could not even remove my appendicitis. The following year my appendicitis nearly ruptured. This was the beginning of many surgeries, each one with the risk of not having children.
I became pregnant two months after our wedding. As they say, we did not have two nickels to rub together, but I had a husband who loved me for me, and I was going to have our first child in April of 1973. Mike was graduating with his Master’s Degree in March and we would have our family intact. We had saved enough money over the summer for Mike to pay his last semester in school. My parents announced that they were not going to pay for my last three quarters of school. To this day, I do not know why. Mike felt badly that we were going to spend our money for him to finish school and I would not. Honestly, I was totally fine with the decision, I was going to be a mom.
We returned to the University of Tennessee in August 0f 1972. Karen was married and had a son, Drake. She and her husband Stephen and Drake lived in the same apartment complex. Again, I do not have a reason of why, but mom and dad paid for Karen to finish school. Mike, Karen, and Stephen would go to class and I babysat for Drake. He was precious, and I loved it. Her in-laws paid me $25. 00 a week to babysit Drake.
While they all were in class, I taught myself to cook. I had received a Betty Crocker cookbook for a wedding present and I would practice new recipes on Mike, Karen, and Stephen. The three of them would come home to a home cooked meal. (Wait to see what God does with this at the end of the story!!) I love to cook to this day, and can feed an army.
Karen and Mike graduated, I learned to cook and we were going our separate ways. Stephen, Karen and Drake were moving to Brownsville, Tennessee. Stephen was going to work for his father’s family business and Karen went into teaching. Mike had attended a job fair and was offered a job with Dow Badische in Anderson, South Carolina. I was so sad to leave my twin sister. I had adjusted to mom and dad moving to California and Susan living in Ohio with her family. Although it was a huge adjustment for me to be away from my family, I was getting ready to give birth to our first child in a few weeks.
This was my dad’s favorite story. Mike would carry his lunch everyday. It consisted of a peanut butter sandwich , creamy peanut butter and grape jelly, potato chips and homemade chocolate chip cookies. He came home one day and said, “ Kathy, you have to be more creative with the sandwich! “ I thought, Ok!” The next week I sent a peanut butter sandwich , crunchy peanut butter and strawberry jelly! Dad laughed about that story for years. (I loved when I could make him laugh)
Shawn Michael Stallo was born April 15, 1973. We were both ecstatic. Our precious, blonde hair, blue-eyed boy was perfect. They took me to my room. It was an hour before Mike came to see me. I said, ‘where were you?” He said, “I went to church to thank God for our son.”
A times have changed story.
Although, to me this is embarrassing, Shawn loves it. I was in labor for so long the nurses felt sorry for me and, they let me have a cigarette in the recovery room.
Mike and I were ridiculously over protective. He was worse than I was. We laughed years later remembering when he would say, ‘If you drop his pacifier on the floor, you have to re-boil it for twenty minutes, otherwise you are giving the germs a bath.’ Thank goodness, his mom had come to help us the first two weeks. She set him straight right away. Actually, I think she helped me, by convincing me I was more than capable of taking care of a baby. All through high school, I babysat on a regular basis and therefore I had experience.
I truly loved every minute of being a new mom. When I was pregnant, several young mothers convinced me to nurse my baby. It was not only great financially but he developed into a healthy, happy baby. It did not take long for the pediatrician to have our phone number memorized. I wanted to learn how to best care for my baby, and Dr. Moorehead was a great teacher.
When Shawn was eight months old he had a virus. It was the first time he had gotten sick. He became severally dehydrated and was hospitalized. Throughout our entire marriage it was the only time I saw Mike cry. Shawn did great and was home in a few days. I am not sure that the nurses ever survived the wrath of Mike. The last night Shawn was in the hospital, Dr. Moorehead suggested I go home and get a good night sleep. The nurses begged me not to leave them with Mike. Mike confessed later that Shawn had thrown up and Mike threw out the sheets. He was determined to take him out of the hospital.
In October of 1974, we found a house for rent. We moved to Lakewood Subdivision. It was a fantastic neighborhood. We had neighborhood birthday parties, picnics, a place where the boys played Batman and Robin, went fishing, rode their bikes , and played outside until dark. All the moms would meet at 4:00 pm and walk around the neighborhood every day of the week. We baby sat for each other’s children and car- pooled. We were an extended family for each other. When our neighborhood was traumatized by the West’s family’s child being killed, we all were there. We all grieved with the Wilkie family when their son died from a brain tumor. God taught us all many life lessons during those times.
1976 OUR YEAR OF TRAGEDIES …LIFE IS GREAT LIFE’S NOT FAIR !
I wish I could go back in time and believe what I do today about God and His promises. Instead my tragedies turned into a fear of turning to God. It was not about not believing, it was about a lack of understanding I could turn to Him. Within two years Mike’s father had died from prostate cancer, h is mother had open heart surgery, my mother had a severe nervous breakdown and was hospitalized, and we had to face our worst nightmare. I was having severe pain, evidently from a buildup of scar tissue. I went to a local MD and told him about my pain. I told him my history, and that I was not on a birth control. He ordered a barium x-ray. I called my gynecologist to ask if they thought I should have the x-ray. We did not have texting, or cell phones, or call waiting. I continued to call ,over and over , for an answer. The lab technician got angry with me and said, “Just have the damn x- ray.”
Six weeks later I had gone to visit my sister in Ohio. I started to have waves of nausea while I was there. I was elated! I was sure that I was pregnant.
I remember walking into my sister’s kitchen. Her best friend, Marilyn, and she were crying. Marilyn was a gynecology nurse. She said, “Kathy, if you were pregnant when you had the barium x-ray, it most likely destroyed the baby.” I froze! I called Mike and he immediately drove to Ohio to take me home. He said all the way home, “it can’t be true. “ But it was true, I was pregnant. I went to the doctor’s office and he came in thrilled to tell me the news. The life drained out of his face when I told him about the x-ray. He advised us to terminate the pregnancy. Marilyn was right. The x-ray destroyed the baby, because I was not that far along. The doctor was afraid the trauma of trying to go through a pregnancy would be more damaging to my body.
It was devastating! Mike was raised Catholic and I was a convert. Although we went to church very week , sadly we didn’t turn to God when we needed Him the most. We made our decision on what the doctors advised us to do. We terminated the pregnancy. To make matters even worse the Priest called me one day and said we were going to hell for terminating the pregnancy. When I told Mike, he said, “well maybe he is right.” I was hysterical. I became deeply depressed for months. Mike would not talk about the loss of our baby and he insisted his parents not know.
Thank you God for my dear friend, Linda Weiser, for her comfort and her friendship. Linda’s friendship has been a gift from God my entire adult life. She was also of the Catholic faith. I confided in her about the loss of our baby. She convinced me that the Priest could not have known why we terminated the pregnancy. Several months later ,she noticed I had stopped going to church and she did not want to me to lose my faith. On Mother’s Day I decided to attend Mass. After the Mass, the Priest approached me and wanted to talk. He apologized. He did not know the circumstances and asked that I bury the hatchet. I agreed. However, I was still depressed. I know that my family was concerned. Ten months had passed. My parents had come for the holidays. Dad came up to me and said, ” Kathy, it was a man made machine that took your baby.” It helped me put it into prospective. I wanted to move forward for Shawn. He was only three. I remember one day we were walking to a friend’s house and he wanted me to carry him. I tried to explain to him the doctor would not let me lift him. He said, “Mama, I will walk if you will stop crying.” That broke my heart.
Mike refused to pay the doctor bill. I do not think he realized that every month the bill came in the mail I relived the entire trauma. We contemplated whether we should sue them, due to the fact the lab technician told me to have the X-ray. We decided together it would be ‘dirty money.’
I also had severe bladder infections for the next two years. Mike’s mother sent me to a specialist in Virginia, who referred me to the head of the gynecology department at Emory University in Atlanta, GA., Dr. John Thompson. He was our God send. He was very supportive for all the unnecessary things we had been through. Although we would be taking a huge risk, with his knowledge, he thought we could be successful in carrying a baby. To be honest, I was scared to death. I had been through too much loss . I was finally coming out of my depression. I was content with Shawn and Mike. I did not think I could survive another loss. Mike convinced me to try. Thank God he did, I became pregnant the following March. Emory University sent me pure progesterone from Johns Hopkins University, to carry the baby. Oh my gosh! I was huge. Looking back, I know now that Mike could not talk about his fears. He was elated that I was pregnant but he carried a huge fear I would miscarry. When I was eight months pregnant he was content that the baby would be okay.
Kenneth Todd Stallo, ‘Kent’, was born January 3, 1978. We named him after both of his grandfathers, Kenneth Stallo and James Todd. Life was getting back on track. He absolutely won my heart. My twin sister, Karen, moved to Anderson with her son Drake. I loved having her near. Shawn and Drake became best buds and Kent thought he was one of them. Kent adored Shawn. He followed him everywhere. As I mentioned, the neighborhood was full of boys of all ages. They rode their bikes, went fishing, built club- houses and had sleepovers every weekend. Shawn had started school and was playing soccer. The doctors encouraged us to be content with two children. Emotionally and physically it had taken a toll on both of us. But to our surprise, I became pregnant with our third child. We consulted with Dr. Thompson and he felt we should try to get through the pregnancy without the additional hormones. Jonathan Brent Stallo was born on July 6, 1980. He was named after Dr. Thompson. Kent was two and a half and Shawn was seven and now Brent. We were blessed! Thankfully, Brent was a good baby.
APPLICATION COMPUTER SYSTEMS
Mike approached me about going into his own business with Rod Sherhouse, a fellow employee from Dow- Badische, when I was carrying Brent. I totally encouraged him to go for it. We were back to living on a shoe string, but he was in his element. He used to love the story that many of their first meetings with the sales-men were in McDonald’s parking lot. Mike really was a genius. He loved being his own boss. Rob worked the Atlanta area and Mike worked the upstate. The boys were keeping me busy. I started coaching soccer and taught pre-school part time. I wanted to have another baby. I had several surgeries after Brent was born and Mike was worried I was setting myself up for a heart break, We decided if it was meant to be, we would have one more blessing.
Chase Alexander was born June 25, 1984. He was given my dad’s middle name, Alexander. He was absolutely a precious baby. I was in my element, and so was Mike. I did not tell Dr. Thompson I was expecting again, but I wrote him when Chase was born. He wrote us back and told me that looking back into my records, Chase was a miracle. My case is in the medical books at Emory University.
In 1984, I started a journal of all of the funny things the boys would say and do. It is hilarious. The name of the journal is: My Three Sons Plus One.
1016 HOBBY LANE
We were outgrowing our house on Lakewood Drive. Mike’s business was doing well and he really wanted to find some land to build a bigger house. You know men, he said he wanted to be able to — off the front porch!
I was walking with a friend two miles from Lakewood Drive. I saw a sign on Hobby Lane ‘ Land For Sale, seven acres!’ I rushed home and Mike went to see the land. It was a Sunday night, but we immediately called our realtor and told her that we wanted the seven acres on 1016 Hobby Lane. She called us the next day and said, “ it was a good thing you called, someone else wanted it too. “
We built a huge house. Each boy had his own room. We had a basement for them to entertain their friends and in the next few years, we built a swimming pool. Mike and Shawn built a half pipe to ride their skate- boards, and together we built a club- house for them. They made a huge track in the woods and rode their motorcycles. . It was a boy’s haven.
Mike’s philosophy was to have a home where they could bring their friends, and we would know where they were, and who they were hanging around with . The best way to describe our life on Hobby Lane is the following entry from : Having Coffee with God.
MY HOUSE MY HOME
When people say: Oh! It is just a house I think..No! It’s not just a house. It’s my home
A home where I raised my children, cooked their meals, tucked them in at night, said their prayers,taught them to swim, ride a bike and cleaned their rooms out when they left the nest.
Where I had my career, and played with my grandchildren. wrote poetry and had a wedding It’s a home where I welcomed a million people into, some to even live for a short while.
Where we had slumber parties, baseball banquets, birthday parties, and even a tea party on my 54th birthday.
A home where my pets are buried, a place where families gathered for the holidays, memories and celebrations. A fun place with half pipes, clubhouses, motorcycles,
Mickey Mouse waffles and best friends. A place where I learned life lessons, what I was capable of, and not. A place where I am just a mom. A home where I felt safe when I was scared of the world. A home where I grieved a horrible loss and where my spirituality grew. A home where I found me and created Thelma P. Figwort, Muffy Sue and became a soccer coach. A beautiful gift from God who empowers me to grow and helps me learn life lessons.
A home that God will let me know when to let it go to make a new memory. When it is God’s timing to let it go and I am grieving the loss, laughing at the memories, and taking my favorite stuff on a new journey.
Share with me, cry with me, laugh with me and please respect that to me it was not just a house it was our home on 1016 Hobby Lane.
Everything becomes a memory…
WHY MOTHER’S CRY
I wish I could explain it, the reasons mothers sigh. The letting go of memories, are our feelings when we cry. When you’re cleaning out the attic and find an old torn crate, it’s just my favorite memories that I wanted to keep safe. So, if you’re grumbling about the mess, remember, it’s how much I cared. All the stuff that is in that old box are our memories that we shared.
Love, Mom xoxoxoxo
1990 PRINCE CHARMING FELL OFF THE WHITE HORSE
This was the time in my life that I knew something was wrong in our marriage. I had begun to see changes in Mike in 1987. I thought it was the success in the business. I was recovering from surgery and I been in a car accident. Reality was setting in. I was scared to death. I truly felt I was breaking. I was trying to pretend everything was fine, but it was not fine. I remember the day I could not pretend anymore. I had gone to a pain clinic to learn to deal with the chronic pain from the car accident. I learned how to meditate versus taking pain medicine. I was getting ready to go pick up carpool and knew it was helpful to do my meditation tape before I left. I put a tape in the cassette but it was not a meditation tape, it was Mike’s and my song. I truly hit the floor. I cried out for God to help me and I heard Him say, “Take the trust out of him and put it in Me.”
I love looking back in my life and seeing God’s plan. I knew in my heart I was going to be okay. It was a feeling of inner peace. I am not sure that everyone else thought I was going to be okay. I began writing ‘Dear God’ letters. I did not feel many people understood what I was going through. It was during this time I turned to Jesus and began writing. He understood everything I was going through. Since then, I have totally depended, believed and trusted our Lord Jesus Christ. The power of the pen! It was through these letters that I truly began an intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. I strongly believe in journaling. I condensed the letters into a book; Having Coffee with God. Sometimes I cannot believe I wrote them. God is good.
” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillippians 4:13
Take the trust out of him and abide in ME-
Put your feet on the ground and I’ll lead you;
Give me your hand and I’ll hold you;
Give me your fears, along with your tears-
My promise to you-I will heal you
By Kathy Todd Stallo
I was invited to go with a friend to hear a speaker who had come to town. At the last minute she could not go. I was not sure if I could go by myself. After all, I always had one of the boys by my side. I jokingly say: “ I was in the womb with my twin” God gave me the courage to go.
The church was full. The guest speaker, Peter Marshall, talked about bringing all Christian denominations together in one church. I was standing in line after the talk to buy his tapes when the speaker caught my eye. He motioned for me to come closer. I thought, Oh goodness, what did I do wrong? Now I know how lost I must have looked to him. He asked me if I thought I was worthy of God’s love. I wasn’t sure. I said, “Well I guess! “ He said, He asked, ‘Have you been saved?” I said, “I am not sure if I did that right either. ”
He said, “You just ask Him. Invite Him in your heart.” I said, “It’s that simple? “ He said, “It is.” I do not remember being taught that. Of course Satan wanted me to doubt all of this, but I took the risk that day and asked Him to come in my heart and take over my life. It truly was that simple. I believe I gave my life to Christ when I was twelve and God was refreshing my soul. I learned a lot about me throughout these trials. I have learned through Jesus how to deal with the sufferings we endure, and continue to learn every day. I know and I believe He has a plan. In His timing, all will be well.
I remember the year I walked alone.
Being so lost within myself.
In God’s Timing, I began to know me.
The person He created.
What a true gift He gave me.
Unconditional love, time, understanding
I will always be in peace walking with our precious
Lord at my side.
Thank- you, Lord.
Entry from Having Coffee with God
1997 GIFTS FROM GOD
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you…” (2 Timothy 1:6)
Since the day I hit the floor and cried out to our Lord, I am constantly reminded of all of the gifts He has blessed me with. I remember learning when you give your gifts back to Him, He will use them for His glory. That is ‘the truth!’ I knew that my friends were so worried about me. A friend had come to see me! She told me a counselor had moved to town that dealt with women’s issues and children of alcoholics. I said, “ what is her phone number?” It took me three weeks to approach Mike to tell him I wanted to go to counseling. He agreed for me to go. I thought she would give me a few tools to fix me and I would be fine. Oh contrar! We went back to my childhood and dealt with issues I had stuffed. I did not go to blame my parents. I went because I was hitting the depth of depression. I went to find me. I learned how their alcoholic behavior affected me and I started dealing with my emotions.
This truly was a gift to me. I took this experience, my humor, my emotions my ADHD and created a program called Like Yourself Don’t Lose Yourself. Don’t Stuff your Feelings. Figwort and company Tm. Over the past twenty two years I have presented and taught in 1997. Most importantly, I trusted it all to God. I dedicated my program to my mother. No one told her she could have feelings about her father’s death. She turned away from God. She stuffed her feelings into alcohol and prescription drugs my whole life. I remember when I called her and told her I dedicated my program to her. She said , “don’t ever stop presenting your program, it would have changed my life.” I believe by giving it all to God and trusting Him, God took one of the saddest times in my life and created a program to help others. By taking care of myself, mom and I had a wonderful ending. She had turned back to God. Her story gave me so much hope. God’s gifts and God’s timing.
WHEN GOD SENDS YOU AN ANGEL
In 1997, I also found out I was slowly losing my sight. I have a degenerative eye disease. The optic nerve from the macular of my eye, that goes to the brain, was slowly degeneiating. Two weeks later Mike left our marriage.
During this season of my life, God sent me a true angel, Carol Morgan, ‘My Miss Morgan!’ Of course she was very humble and always said she was simply doing God’s work. But to me, she was an angel. She was encouraging, kind and faithful. She was mentor through many adversities. She supported me as I dealt with macular degeneration. She believed in my program and encouraged me to continue presenting it with great regard. Most importantly, she has been my spiritual mentor. She is a true gift from God. She was seventy-five years old and devoted her life to our Lord. I love having friends of different ages. I was in my forties when I met Ms. Morgan and she was in her late sixties. I hung onto her every word. One night she told me how she saw me. I was blown away. She truly knew my heart and soul.
“When you first meet Kathy, she is a very vivacious person. She talks fast, changes subjects midstream, hugs everyone and has a lot of emotional energy. Therefore, a person’s first impression might be that she is an airhead. However, if you listen to what she has to say you discover that she has a tremendous depth of understanding real truth in the simplest way.” Carol Morgan
In memory of Carol Morgan
I will never forget the day that she told me that is how she sees me. Ms. Morgan went to be with our Lord two years ago, but she is forever in my thoughts. I truly believe God gives us our emotions to handle life. God did bless me with a loving, forgiving heart. I believe that is why God blessed me with a loving ending with Mike.
THEY JUST ARE!
Isn’t it wonderful, Lord, when you bring
someone into our lives that are just good
people. The ones that have no alliterative motives, they just are.
They would do anything for you
They would go that extra mile, for no reason.
It is the rest of the world that questions their goodness.
Thank-you dear Lord for letting me see that
not all people have a plan of destruction;
they just are.
By: Kathy Todd Stallo
I gave everything in my life to God. When I found out there was a possibility I would lose my sight, I thought what if I can’t see ‘Law and Order ‘ on TV ,24/7? What will I do to keep me busy? After thirty years I picked up my flute and started playing again. Ironically, all of the songs I was playing went to my memory and I could play without music. I have played in two weddings. Now that is GOD’S work.
Our youngest son, Chase, had moved to West Virginia. I was missing him so much. I asked Mike if he would drive me to West Virginia for the weekend to see him. The leaves were changing and the West Virginia mountains were beautiful. We could see where Chase was living. It was a great trip. Mike treated the boys to a golf trip every October. This year Chase was not able to go. I do think Mike knew something was wrong with him. I believe he took me to see Chase so he could see him too.
I had mentioned to Mike he was losing too much weight but he shrugged it off. He said Kent put him on a healthy diet. I said, ‘well, before your family comes for Christmas I would gain back a few pounds.”
Since Mike left in 1997, I included him every year for Thanksgiving, Easter, and family events. In the past five years he began including me for a family feast at Christmas. Thanksgiving, 2011 Shawn and his wife, Brandy, wanted to combine their families and have Thanksgiving this year. Mike and I were the only two in town from Shawn’s side of the family so it worked for us. Mike and I were sitting outside talking. I looked at him and I knew. He had cancer! He had that horrible, gaunt, cancer look. He left early saying he was tired. I could not believe the difference in a month. He must have lost an additional twenty pounds. I immediately found Shawn. Crying I said, “What is wrong with your dad?” He had noticed it too, but no one had said it out loud.
Mike had bought a house down the street from Shawn. Rule #22! Never say never! I was uncomfortable going to his house, but I marched right down there and knocked on the door. When he answered, he said, “What’s up?” I said, “We need to talk.” I asked him, “What is going on with you?” He said, “Nothing.” Mike knew that I knew him well, I said, “Mike, I don’t want you to die; what is wrong?” He said he did not want to die either. When I left, I made him promise that he would tell me if he discovered something was wrong. Honestly, I think that he knew, but he thought he had it under control.
Chase was coming home for Christmas. Mike was planning to have his family come for their annual visit. They noticed that he seemed a little detached about planning the details, which wasn’t like him at all. He loved having them come for the holiday. I had always felt close to his family and confided in his sister that I was worried. He did not look good. Sadly, cancer was rampant in their family. Their dad had died in his sixties and his sister passed in her late forties from cancer. Mike made sure he put on a few pounds before they came so they would not notice his drastic weight loss. They knew, but nothing was said. All of us respected Mike’s boundaries.
His family had left and he had the boys and their families over for Christmas day. Chase was leaving the next day. He had to confront it. He asked the boys to come over to his house Christmas night, and he told them he had cancer. Looking back, I think he wanted to have one more normal holiday with all of his family. He told the boys that he would tell me and under no circumstances were they to tell me.
THE FIRST FUNNY! YES SIR!
It was the following week. Although he had told the boys, he had not told me that he was sick. By Wednesday the three oldest boys called him and said, “We cannot keep this from mom anymore. We are on the way over to tell her.” He said, “Oh! the hell you are not. ” They all three said: “YES SIR!”
He called me and wanted to return a dish from the Christmas feast. I was oblivious. He sat down and said, “I promised I would tell you … I have cancer.” The boys covered it well for three days. Then again, I did not talk to them those three days I would have noticed by the fourth day something was wrong
The words hit me hard. I turned away from him and started crying. As I said, Mike wanted to be in control. Of course he did! I knew him to the core, more than anyone. (Actually, it drove him crazy how I could figure him out) He felt his emotions were a weakness and he was not going to give in to them now. I made myself stop crying and listened. He had lymphoma. The doctors gave him a 60% chance of survival. He would have some chemotherapy treatments and he should have no problem going to work. He did not want any of us to ask him how he was feeling, he would let us know. YES SIR! I respected how he wanted to handled it.
I WILL NOT CRY IF YOU DON’T BE CRABBY! DEAL!
Kent worked with Mike, Brent worked from his office and Shawn lived down the street. I could check on how he was doing without driving him crazy. They mentioned that he seemed really tired. I had written Mike an email and offered to cook for him. He said he would let me know. As hard as it was, I stepped back.
A few days later he wrote me and said he would take me up on my offer. I had taught myself to cook in college, (See! What God did with the cooking !!)
I knew what he liked, and I was so happy he said yes. I called Kent to come and pick up the meals for him. I would touch base on Thursday. I had already bought his favorite, pork chops. I sent him another email to ask him if he wanted me to fix dinner. No response.
Shawn was out of town for a few days. He called me on Friday morning and said, “ Mom, get over to dad’s house.” I asked him what was wrong. He said he had not been to work for two days. We all knew something was wrong. I told Shawn I had sent him meals over, and he said, “Mom, he can’t get to the kitchen.” I sank.
I walked into his house and called his name, no answer. I did not even know where his bedroom was. When I found it, he was asleep, he turned over, and he had a black eye. He smirked and said he fell out of bed. He was to close to the edge. I cried. “Mike, you have to let me help you.” He said, “I can’t ask you to.” “I don’t deserve you to help me.’ .
I cried, “I just want to be there for you. If you beat this you don’t owe me anything….well you could buy me a snickers!” It was an endearing gesture that he started when we had first moved to Anderson. We did not have any money, and he bought me a bag of candy, a snickers, and bubble gum for my birthday. (He knew me well) I started to cry. He said, “Kathy, you can’t cry. It is too hard on me.” I said, “Okay, I will make you a deal. I won’t cry if you aren’t crabby with me.” We said, “Deal!”
THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF HIS LIFE.
I immediately went into the role I knew. I planned his meals with him, cooked for him, cleaned the house, and did the wash. I truly felt blessed by God because I could be there for him. I was sitting holding his hand one day and I knew in my heart, God had a bigger purpose for me being there. As far as I knew, Mike had stopped going to church years ago. I think he knew that my faith had grown in leaps and bounds. Sometimes you were not sure how Mike was going to respond to things, or what he was thinking. I mustered up the courage to say, “I want to make sure you are waiting for me at heaven’s gate, and if I go first, I want you to know I am waiting for you.” We have to start praying together . He squeezed my hand , nodded his head yes, and said, “I will be waiting.” Remember! I could not cry, but I made donkey noises the whole way home. I would say a prayer with him every day. When I left his house I would say I LOVE YOU!! One day I heard, ‘ love you too.’ I called Brandy, my daughter in law, and we cried all the way home.
YOUR BARBER IS HERE!
The boys were absolutely, wonderfully, devoted to him through his entire illness. They would check on him all throughout the day. They would stop to see him at night, and insisted I take off Sundays and they took over. At this point, he was still functioning to some degree. Kent worked with Mike. He would bring Mike work from the office and he worked several hours a day. Kent had more on him then any of us, trying to keep the office running. Mike insisted that no one know he was sick. He had not even told his family. Shawn finally convinced him to tell his brother and sisters.
We were three weeks into the first chemotherapy treatment. He had fallen again and we brought him a cane to use. He made it clear that would not happen. I have been using a cane with my eye disease, when needed, for several years. He told me I did not know what it was like! I said, “Who are you talking to?” He felt like a burnt biscuit and asked me to show him how to use it. I showed him how to put the cane forward and then walk up to it. He told me about a week later that the cane was working. Thank you God for humbling him to use the cane. Then we had to convince him to use a walker. Tough day!
At one point we needed to address him taking a shower and cutting his hair. Shawn had called me on Sunday. “Mom, you have to shave dad’s hair today!” I knew they could not do it. I had stopped at Shawn’s house. He gave me a quick lesson on how to use shears. I usually did not go to his house on Sundays, but I walked in and announced his barber was here. He said, “NOT TODAY!” I will leave out the rest of what he said, but then he submitted and said, “Get it over with.” I got a towel, and starting shaving his hair. Actually, I did good job. I said, “Mike, I just wanted you to know that I have never used sheers before, but you look very handsome.” Brent had bought him a cool sock hat. He always told him he looked like he was ready to go work on the docks, with his black eye.
I told him among the five of us, I was certain I was the only one that had seen him naked and I would get in the shower with him. The next morning before his doctor’s appointment, he had taken a shower and was all spruced up. It made me proud for him. I noticed his breathing was extremely labored. Shawn came to take him. Mike insisted on going to the appointment by himself. We agreed. Again, when I watched Shawn walk him to the car with his cane, I made donkey noises. God always knew when I was not going to hold up to my promise about crying and would detach me from the situation. Mike was going to call me to come and get him after his appointment to take him home. I was only home for a few minutes. He texted me, “ come and get him right away! “ Actually, I had texted very little up to this point, but it was proven to be a life savior the next few months. I prayed the whole way there for God to give me courage for whatever we were facing I was there in ten minutes. I helped him to the car, and he wanted me to drive. I knew we were in trouble, he hadn’t driven with me since 1972. I calmly asked, “Where are we going?” He said, “To the hospital, my heart rate is dangerously high.” I walked him into the hospital and before I went to park the car he asked me to get him a wheelchair. When I returned they called him to check him in, and he put his head down on her desk. I said, “Miss, this is not the way he normally acts, we need help now.” Thank God she listened to me. He was taken to intensive care. It was then we got the news, not only did the chemotherapy not work, he had T-cell lymphoma, a very rare type of cancer.
Entry funnies… HOW ARE YOU FEELING MR. STALLO?
The nurses and their aides quickly found out not to ask Mike how he was feeling. Mike did not mince words or looks. He looked at them as if saying how in the ….. do you think I feel. I tried to warn them when they came in not to ask him. I think he scared some of the young girls to death. We were settling into his room in ICU, and a TV monitor comes on and a women is saying, “MR. STALLO, MR. STALLO, LOOK AT THE MONITOR! HOW ARE YOU FEELING?” I thought I was going to die. He abruptly said, fine! She said, GOOD! I WILL CALL AND SEE HOW YOU ARE FEELING TOMORROW. I never saw anyone come on the monitor after that day. Oh Me! Mike could give a look. I could probably write a book: What does Mike’s ‘look’ mean?
HOPE FOR TODAY
I am so thankful to God . He blessed me with the gift of all of my emotions. I needed every one of them throughout this part of my journey I am an emotional person. If I am hurt, or angry by the way someone treated me. I turn to God and ask Him what to do. I hear Him say, “FORGIVE! Lay your anger at the cross and I will handle it all.” He has never failed me. . I truly believe in forgiveness.
During Mike’s last weeks, I was determined to keep my promise to him that I would not cry. I was not prepared for the day that he did. I told him I was so thankful to be there with him, and he said, “I can’t believe you are,” and he cried. When I thought I was going to lose it, I pretended I had to leave the room for a minute. Remember, Mike had promised not to be crabby. He had gotten obsessed with numbers: his heart rate, his temperature, his blood pressure, and what time one person was leaving and the next one was coming. There were days when I was beyond exhaustion.
One day, he insisted I bring him back chap stick at 6:00 pm sharp. I was aware that I was enabling him at times, but if I could appease him by being there at 6:00pm with chap stick in hand, I could do it. I walked in the room and he looked at me and said, “GET OUT!” It totally blindsided me. I left! He texted me and asked, “Where are you?” I did pull over at the drug store and texted back, “I am going home!” He asked me to please come back, and I did. I said, “Mike, you can’t yell at me.” He truly apologized. We were back on track. The nurses later explained to us to expect what they called chemo brain. They tripled the chemotherapy and it was affecting his sleeping. He would go days without sleeping. But he learned to entertain himself, and manipulated the bed to be a rolling coaster. He told me one night he was bored and squeezed all of his wires together. The nurses about had a heart attack.
Endearing He asked me what day it was, and I said Friday. He said, “Good tomorrow is cartoon day.” Brent and I about knocked each other over trying to get out of the room first, so he would not see us cry. It was an emotional nightmare.
One night I was leaving and I could not hold back, I was sobbing. Anna, one of the nurses that I knew personally, stopped me and said, “Kathy I want to tell you something to hold on to. The only way you are going to get through this is to have HOPE FOR TODAY and DON’T LOOK FORWARD .” That one statement became engrained in all of us. We lived on hope.
Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24
THE THREAD OF HOPE
Thank you, God, for comforting me in the night. I woke up crying and told you I felt that I was hanging by a thread…
I heard you say… I am taking that thread and
healing your broken heart.
Then, Dear Lord, you put a book in my hand to read… to learn about my heart, learning to be accountable and to repent.
I am continuously learning what a gift of knowledge and hope
You are to Your purpose and me.
Thank you Lord for hope that the thread heals all parts of my heart, my prideful heart, my angry heart, my envious heart, my fearful heart, my broken heart,
my lazy and selfish heart, the evil thoughts so that my heart is always open and does not turn hard.
WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH IT?
We had a lot of hope this week. He actually was sitting up working on his computer, he was back in his element. He was getting a little bossy. ( ok! a lot bossy!) He went to grab a bottle off of the table. I said, “ just want to make sure you know that is Not a water bottle! It is a urine bottle !!”
He was obsessed about numbers. He was frustrated that the dinner tray he was using as a computer desk, and it would not fit under his bed his satisfaction. He told me to move it 6 milliliters and it would work. ( I am thinking, milliliters?) I convinced him that he would have to wait on the nurse. Chase was there, and I was rubbing Mike’s feet. I said, “Mike!
When did you get so obsessed with numbers?” Chase said, “ MOM! He graduated in chemistry!” I said, “what does that have to do with it? “ I thought Chase and Mike were either going to pass out, or die laughing .. Opposites attract. Oh me! When the nurse came in, he told her about moving the bed. She moved it six milliliters . He was absolutely right.
THE PAPAW CRY CLUB.
PRESIDENT : BRENT STALLO
I loved that my dad could cry. He could cry at the drop of a hat He could cry at your wedding .He could cry at a sad movie. He could cry when talking about the memories of his mom . He could cry when he was happy or just because! He truly was a cry baby. I believe God gave my dad tears to help him survive the adversities of his life. I am so thankful that he passed that trait on to me. I too am a Big Crybaby…
I wish I could tell him that to me a true man allows his tears to flow. Then again, I think he knows. Whenever I am making donkey noises, his favorite hanky shows up from nowhere.
September 1, 2009
In memory of ‘My Popsey’
The first time that I saw Shawn, I absolutely lost it. He hugged me and said.. good times mom. Good times! That was tough. Brent said that he could not stop crying, he was just like papaw. I think Kent is trying to keep it together for the business and I truly feel for Chase being in West Virginia. Maybe he is the lucky one .
Drake and Brent were neck in neck on who was to be the president of the Papaw Cry Club. By this point Brent was officially the President. Brent and I created the word, ‘Switch” . When we could not talk about a situation we would say, SWITCH. It worked! When I would start to cry in front of Chase we had a deal. If I cleared my throat it meant, you better hang up I am going to lose it.
Many days I would come home from the hospital emotionally drained. Some days I would sit in my chair and sob. Other days I would journal about the day and if I was not talking and praying to Jesus, I was writing my Dear God letters.
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the Simple”(Psalm 119:130)
March 2, 2012
Dear Precious Lord, Jan. 20, 2012 Thank you dear Lord for today. Thank you for allowing me to serve you to help Mike. Thank you for stopping me from crying. I can’t cry in front of him. I am asking you for strength. Thank you for changing my attitude to hope. Thank you for loving me and putting forgiveness and hope and unconditional love in my heart Lord. I worship you so much.
Thank you Lord Precious Jesus for allowing me to see that I had to stand firm in your word, and stand up to Satan. He so wanted me to doubt and to leave in anger. Because of you precious Lord, I didn’t leave. Mike was pushing me away. I sat and talked to you, you gave me the courage to stand firm with what you have done for us and our family the last two months. Thank you for letting me see in his eyes that he heard me. Thank you for the courage to stand firm because it is not about Mike or me it is about you working through me . Thank you for one of the most vauable lessons you have taught me, about hope about standing firm and setting spiritual boundaries. Please take him in your arms and comfort him and give him the unconditional love that only you can fill him with. Praise you Lord Jesus Christ.
MAKING DONKEY NOISES
Losing my father was one of the saddest times in my life, but to watch my children lose their father was heart wrenching. When I lost my dad, I learned to grieve. I would make ‘donkey noises’, all the way home, after dropping off the boys at school. Donkey Noises: That gut wrenching noise when all the emotions come out at one time. I remember one of the boys said to me, “Mama, don’t be sad.” I said, “If you don’t let me be sad, I don’t think I will ever feel happy again.”
I grieved the loss of my dad. I know that this sounds weird, I just never thought he would die. Mom died two years later. I had a beautiful closure with mom. When she died I felt -total peace that she was with dad and our Lord.
TO OUR FOUR SONS .. I REMEMBER !
When my dad died When I was where you are, my heart was broken
And Jesus said, ask me into your heart and I will heal you
When I was where you are, I was so sad & scared
And Jesus said, You are grieving and I learned to grieve
When I was where you are, I was angry
And Jesus said , I know that you are angry,
Lay it at cross every night
When I was where you are, I was so lost
And Jesus said, I will lead you on the right path
When I was where you are, I cried
And Jesus said, BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM THERE !
When I was where you are, I was afraid
And Jesus said, give me your fears
When I was where you are, I did not know who to trust
And Jesus said…put your trust in me
When I was where you are, I did not think I could live
Jesus said, Believe! I have a plan and a purpose for you
When I was where you are, and I felt all those things at one time
God said , I love you unconditionally, I will never abandon you.
When I was where you are, I said I cannot handle this!
And God said, give it to me I will handle it all
When I was where you are, I said God will I ever be ok?
And God said… in my time.. I promise!
And I said, what do you need from me, God?
And God said. Simply have Faith in Me
THE TWO PROMISES
Out of the clear blue he would say, “we have a half hour before you have to leave, LET”S ARGUE!” Then he was going to ride the roller coaster, his bed.
I asked him if he remembered what he had to do when he got out of the hospital, and he said yes. “I am going to dance with you at Brent’s wedding and buy you a snickers.” I am so thankful that there was nothing left unsaid. I told him I was so glad I was there for him and he said, “I can’t believe you are” and he cried. He cried many times that day. He admitted he was on a short leash and the tough guy left the previous Saturday. Basically, he knew he had to stop being an ……!
If you don’t let go of anger
You will live with hatred
If you don’t let go of hatred
You will live with prejudice
If you don’t let go of hurt
You will live in sadness
If you live in sadness
You will be in despair
If you don’t let go of guilt
You will live in shame
If you don’t let go of shame
You will live in fear
If you don’t let go of fear
You cannot trust
If you cannot trust
You cannot forgive
If you cannot forgive
You cannot love
If you cannot love
You will lose yourself
If you lose yourself
You aren’t living God’s gift of life
By Kathy Todd Stallo
I do not know if it was ‘chemo brain’ or a bad dream, but it affected him for days. He thought that he died and he was truly in hell. He said that he was glad that he woke up and was still here. He wanted an answer from the doctors, what was going on. Was it the medicine? Personally, I thought it was spiritual warfare, and I was going to fight Satan every inch of the way. I am known for being good at rubbing feet. I said, “Mike, please let me rub your feet, I can get you relaxed.” He finally said ok, and it became an everyday event. When I was rubbing his feet. praying silently the whole time, all of a sudden he said, “get the …. out of here.” I looked him straight in the face and said, “I am not leaving.” The nightmare was over!
And old men will have dreams Those who call out to the Lord will be saved Acts 2:17-24
The other funny was when I told Brent I thought about telling dad when I went to pick him up at chemo.. you guys all looked alike. I mean that in an endearing way. No I didn’t say it to Mike, he would not think it was funny, but Brent agreed he would have said it to me .
Brent just told me that he told Shawn he was up there today. Shawn said, really? Brent said why? He said I asked dad if you were up there and he said nope, he hadn’t seen you today. He had been sedated for the procedure so we will mark it up to that.
Jan 26, 2012 Today has really been rough. The doctor called this morning and said the lymphoma was not responding to chemo. That was not good. He talked to the top doctor in Houston and he gave him three options. If he was his patient he would give him three days of heavy chemo. If that did not work we could be in trouble.
We talked about the ventilator and that Mike did not want it. He could go on one temporarily and it could save his life. They would know if it was not working and they would take him off of it. I went and spent the morning with him and just held his hand. He let me rub his feet. I could not believe that blessing. Thank you God. You truly have given me a gift.
The lung doctor said we could do radiation as an option. He said he had some swelling and sometimes a tumor will swell before it dies. Thank God Chase is coming home. Thank you God for that answer to prayer. One day at a time . Be thankful for today and hopeful for tomorrow!
In the mist of all of it, Jackie told Brent and Brandy that Nana put a band-aid on Pop’s bobo.
Chase said it is pretty bad when mom is the rock. Mike asked the nurse if we were on schedule. She looked at me and I shook my head yes she said ‘yes we are!’
DAY TO DAY
Remembering the stories in my past when God was truly there ,is what helped get me through some of the horrific times at the hospital. I knew deep down I was losing Mike. It devastated me knowing what my boys were facing, and I am not sure they knew. I cherished every moment with him. I think he was beginning to realize things were not working in his favor. “Hope for today and don’t look past it.” Every day I would remind him of God’s miracles: His fever was down, his blood pressure was great, his heart rate was up. We hung on to each one. The family was really getting great on learning how to text each other.
The doctors were pushing to get him to MD Anderson in Texas.
We had plans to fly out that week. Then we got the news! Although the triple dose of chemotherapy worked, the next round did not. MD Anderson did not accept him. I think Mike was okay with it. He really trusted his doctors and nurses in Anderson and he wanted to be with his family. Although I was packed and ready to leave, I did not think he would survive the helicopter ride to Texas.
His team of doctors in Anderson did not think he would live through another triple dose of chemotherapy and one dose was not working. The emotional roller coaster! We did not care, he was still with us. The following weeks were redundant. He was slowly losing his voice. We learned to lip read. The doctors were amazed how he was holding on.
YOU REMEMBER ME!
The feeding tube! He was totally against having a feeding tube. He was getting malnourished. The doctors called in a ear, nose, and throat doctor to talk with him. It was on a Saturday morning. The doctor walked in and said, ” Mike, you remember me! I was your doctor in 2005 when you had throat cancer.” I know exactly what Mike was thinking. The doctor looked at me and said, “how did he do with that? ” I said, “I do not know, it is the first time that I have heard about it.” Something we all can learn. Mike had a philosophy:
Denial, minimize or fix. He truly thought he was in control of it all. I am certainly thankful he figured it out before he died that he was not. He did get the feeding tube, which gave us a few more weeks.
A GOOD DAY!
Today Chase and Brent and I went to see Mike. He really looked good today. And was quite chipper. All three of us cried a lot. I talked to him about having a word between us. That if he wanted me to come up tell them you want me to rub your feet. He said, he knew that I wanted to be there and he would tell them that he wanted to see me for an hour or two, he would tell them. And, if they got on his nerves he would pretend to be asleep.
He is much more alert today. He told Chase and me we could leave when his movie came on. I told him he needed to get his priorities straight. He asked me what was wrong with ‘Chasey Poo?’ I said, “He doesn’t like to see his dad sick.” He said, “I don’t like it either.” Again, I cannot say enough about the bond that he and the boys had through it all. Not only were they lucky, so was he. We were still hanging onto hope. His tumor grew 20 percent they still gave him blood transfusions every other day then chemo in two weeks . If chemotherapy works they will send him to Houston, Texas for a bone marrow transplant.
GREAT NIGHT OF LAUGHS
They took him out of intensive care and he got a ‘regular room’. Now that was hope!
That was a fun time. Mike’s brother Mark had come up from Florida and was going to stay
with him for a week. Mike had to go through the process of going to a regular room, walk
with a walker and then homeward bound. He was absolutely not nice to the Physical
Therapist who tried to get him to walk with the walker. I said, Mike! They do not want to
be sued. What if you fall? I reminded him that a friend had fallen and was in a nursing
home with a broken hip. It could be worse. He said will you ever get to my level logically I
said ‘will you ever get to my level emotionally?” He said, no! I said, ‘ well then we can meet
in the middle! ‘ He said ,’or we can diverse!’ And I said , ‘oh yeah, we can do that too!’ Felt
good to be able to stand up for myself. Mark and I left him with the PT and the black man
that she went to get to help her. When we walked out of the room Mark said, well Kath,
you certainly handled that right. He can be tough. Mike shared with me later, he
hoped that our boys got a big dose of logic from him, and how to handle their emotions
Later that night we all were in his room. We all started telling old war stories. Mike said Mark was a good kid. Mark said their dad was worn out after raising Mike. They both agreed he was fair unless you went over the line. Mark laughed admitting when their dad got too old he would send Mike out to find him. I love how Mark called Mike, ’Hoss.’ It was the most normal night we all had together. We were full of hope. Mike started telling them that a CPA could not have balanced my checkbook. He wanted me to buy dye for his hair for Brent’s wedding . They had a bet Brent’s hair would be whiter by the wedding. He insisted he had more hair than Kent. He told the doctors that a bunch of people lived with him, anything to get home. He laughed and told Brent he was not going anywhere. He did not want them to have all of his money.
They laughed about their dog Buffy, and when Mike would put his smelly shoes under his sister, Kathy’s, pillow. She would jump off the couch and he would run to take her place.
He was being demanding with Kent about bringing him two different things that were in different directions, which was not possible. But he expected it anyway. I told him that Kent was the only one that had to deal with him on a personnel and business level he needed to back it up a little. We all laughed when Mark told us he got stopped by the police in Georgia, he was driving from Florida. He didn’t think he was speeding. The officer said no he was not speeding, but when we see a white truck with tinted windows, from Florida, we assume it is drug related. Thank you God that we could laugh.
OK the funny of the day. He told the doctor that he did not smoke.. The lung doctor asked him if he used to smoked, he said that he quit. The doctor said, OH really, when? Mike said, two days ok. Oh ME!
Second funny of the day.. Mike told Brent and me that he was getting his days and nights mixed up. I said, “you know babies do that.” He gave me a look, and I said, ” no I didn’t mean that you were acting like a baby.”Brent said, good one mom!” OH ME!
BACK TO THE HOSPITAL
A few weeks later Mark had come back up to spend a few days. Mike had really lost his voice. It really frustrated him and us! I had become good at reading his lips, most of the time. IF that didn’t work I would take a wipe off board and we would go down the alphabet and spell out the words. He was trying to tell us something and got so mad that we could not understand him and he said OH……..!!! At the same time Mark and I both said, “We understood that!! I remember telling Mark stories about his dad when he was sick. Mark said, “I think you remember more about my childhood than I do.”
Mike became quite good at sign language. One day he pretended he was throwing a football to Brent, which meant, turn on the football game. Another time I was rubbing his feet and he was moving his fingers like a pair of scissors. Mark said, “What is he doing?” I said, “He is reminding me to bring the toe nail clippers.” The hardest times were when he did something almost childlike. He thought there was a bomb under his bed and insisted I get Shawn there. I do think now those times were under the category, chemo-brain, lack of sleep, or watching NCIS, a police show, twenty-four seven.
Thank you God he got to go home for a week. Mark stayed through the week. I took them home cooked meals and the boys were there too. On super bowl Sunday, the boys had planned to all go down and watch football, Mark had left and I said I would stop by if they needed me. They had given Mike some liquid pain medicine for his throat. It was very potent, and he could only have it every six hours. He was hard to deal with about the medicine. Chase was with him that day, and Mike told him he was going to take a nap. Chase had to get some work done and I said I would stop by and check on him later after I went to the grocery store.. When I got there, he was out of it. I had hid the medicine but I think he found it and took one big dose. When Kent asked him if he did that ,he gave him that sheepish grin and shook his head yes, than looked at me and said no. By now, all of the boys were there and so was Shanna. None of us knew what to do, I finally went over and sat next to him. I said, Mike what is wrong? He said, I am really confused! When I took his hand he was burning up. We tried to call the doctor and I got pretty upset. I said, take him to the hospital now. Shanna stayed with me, and the boys took him. She was great. As sick as he was he teased Shanna with the walker. Pretending he was going to fall. I thought she was going to. Bless her heart.
I was really crying and I knew I would not be any good to any one. I was not there, but I think the boys made it clear to do something for him. They admitted him into the hospital again. At 4:00 in the morning Kent called me and said mom, is there any way you can come up and take over? I was there by 5:00am. I was setting him up in the room, plugged in his computer. The nurse came and she was taking his vital signs.
I remember she called the front desk and said, I will come out there and get what I need. Within two seconds there were fifteen people surrounding his bed. Needless to say, i was hysterical. The nurse took me out of the room and said we are going to take you to this waiting room and the minister will come and talk to you. I said, what is going on? She said, his heart stopped. I called the boys, and no I wasn’t over reacting!’ The Chaplin had come to talk to me, just in case. The boys had arrived and it was pretty chaotic. Kent was talking to the doctor, there was still a team in his room, I stood back while they got the details.
Funny of the day The Chaplin noticed I had stepped back and patted me on the shoulder. She said, ‘oh are you the step mom?” I said, ‘no.’ Someone asked me why she would ask that, I said, “Oh I am sure because I looked so much younger.”
A BEAUTIFUL LOVE STORY
I remember when one day the nurses asked me how long we had been married. I said, “Well, we aren’t together anymore.” I thought that she was going to pass out. She said, “But we have watched you hold his hand, cry with him, be there for him.” Then she said, “That is the most beautiful love story I have ever heard.” I was blown away. Many people to this day cannot understand how I could still love him. Simply! It is the heart God created in me. I remember the day my sister, Susan said, “you love like dad did!” I believe God gives us the tools, but we have to apply them. He gives us the choice. I am not sure that I realized until this very minute. Because I forgave Mike over and over. God’s promise of giving us peace was my blessing. When I finish sobbing, I will continue to write….
HAVING A PURPOSE
This is the most difficult chapter to write. I want to say it perfectly. I do not want to leave anything out. I had one of the most spiritual moments in my life with Catherine Adams, Maureen Bailes and Mike.
There was a time during his illness that I believed I was there for more than helping care for him. I believe God was using me for His glory. I had talked to Mike about praying and we did. I felt that something was missing spiritually with Mike, that I needed to talk to him about. I wanted to make sure that we were on the same page about eternity, about asking Jesus to come into his heart. All I had to do was ask Mike if he had asked Jesus to come into his heart. I was scared to come right out and ask him if he had been -saved? I was afraid I would ask him in the wrong way, or he would tell me to leave. What if he told me no that he wasn’t going to? I prayed every day, asking God to give me the right words. One day I changed my prayer.
“Dear Lord, I don’t think that Mike wants to surrender, he thinks he still has control, and I truly know only you do. If we need another messenger please send one.”
God truly sent me two angels: Catherine Adams and Maureen Bailes.
Catherine Adams is a neighbor from Lakewood Subdivision, the neighborhood we lived in for eleven years. In my opinion, she is one of the most devout Christians on the block. I often teased her saying I am sure I kept you busy praying. She actually was one of the few neighbors that knew our tragic story about losing the baby.
Maureen Bailes was one of Mike’s nurses. I remembered her from Saint Joseph’s Church. Her mom would walk proudly into church, with all ten of her children parading behind her. Sadly, she had been killed in a car accident. Maureen and I talked about her mom’s spirit many times and her favorite stories. *****
It had been a really tough week. Brent and I had switched shifts. While he was at the hospital, I had to do some errands and we were we dealing with waiting for the results from some tests. We had hope that Mike could get on a regular diet, but, first he had to pass the swallowing test. If he did not pass they would put him on a feeding tube. He was really against having one. Satan did his best to sabotage God’s plan. This week I found out that he had not paid my house payment for three months, he threw away his wedding ring, he did not renew the life insurance and I would not have health insurance if he died. As I had mentioned before, Mike and I were not together. I am sure that he dated, but I didn’t really want details. He had given me his Saint Christopher medal in the hospital. I happened to look on the back of it and it said, “love from your favorite sunshine.” Ouch! I am not sunshine!. One of the boys happened to call me and said, “Mom you don’t have to go back up there.” I prayed about it and said; “It is not about me, it is about doing God’s work. It is about pleasing God and having faith. It is about handing Him the circumstance and totally trusting His will. There is nothing He won’t handle if you ask Him.” Jesus teaches us about choices. This is an example of making a choice God’s way or the way of the flesh. I don’t want to carry the anger and hurt of the past anymore.
I did get the courage to confront Mike about the life and health insurance and he insisted I go to the social security office about getting his benefits if he died. That was the errand that I had to run and do. I decided to stop in the family dollar store to pick up a few things when I got the call that he didn’t pass the swallowing test. I thought I was going to go to my knees. I left the store, and of course, could not find my car. I heard someone call my name. It was Catherine Adams. She had no idea I had prayed for the right words to minister to Mike. She proceeded to say this unbelievable prayer, about healing through touch, the healing of Jesus will pass through my hands, it totally made sense when I was rubbing his feet he saw the demons and told me to get the f— out! I looked at him dead on and said, “I am not going anywhere.” Catherine totally verified it all. She quoted the Bible totally. The New Testament talks of healing hands. She said it was definitely spiritual warfare. Jesus was working through me. It was the most spiritual moment in my life.
If I had not gone to the dollar store I would not have seen her. She told me she had no plans of going to that post office today but she felt God told her to go to the small post office. His plan, Praise you Lord Jesus. God had totally changed my attitude when I saw Mike. I touched his throat and feet and chest praying for healing. All this happening on the anniversary of my dad’s death, Feburary 8th. He had died 18 years ago.
Although I had converted to Catholicism, I was confused about some of their traditions. I was walking to the nurse’s station and Maureen was standing in the hall. We were talking about Christianity, and it hit me. She was a raised Catholic and I could ask her my questions. I seriously am not making any judgment about the Church, I just wanted to know if they were taught to ask Jesus into their hearts to be reborn? She said, “Well, to be honest they were always talking in Latin, and I didn’t understand a lot of things as a child.” I told her I had some concerns and my fears of not saying it the right way. She told me to pray for the right words, and she would pray if God wanted to use her to talk to him, she would . I was feeling settled. I went back to Mike’s room and held his hand. I miss holding his hand so much. He was drifting so I silently prayed for the right words if God was going to use me.
I WAS RACKING MY BRAIN, NICODEMUS?
A few hours had passed. I was sitting at the end of his bed and all of a sudden in storms Maureen, shut the door and threw the curtain around the bed for privacy. I thought, here we go! I had never seen her so serious. She sat down next to Mike and took his hand. She said,” Mike, I need to talk to you.” She talked about being raised in the Catholic church, how sometimes the Latin was confusing. He was nodding his head yes in agreement the entire time. Then she asked him directly, ” Mike, if you died tomorrow would you know where you are going?” He said,”NO!” Thank you God for putting duct tape over my mouth. I thought NO? But, Maureen didn’t skip a beat. She said, “Do you want me to tell you how you will not have any doubt where you are going?” He said, “ YES!” She continued…reminding him the story of Nicodemus? He said, yes! I am sitting there racking my brain, Nicodemus?
Nicodemus, ‘A gracious man amoung the leading people in Jerusalem who believed Jesus came from God, even when others began to doubt. However, even being a teacher of Israel, and known for his wisdom he didn’t understand the very simple truth. Jesus wanted him to know that the Holy Spirit comes into any heart that is open. The Holy Spirit has come, is kind and true and gentle, loving good and hating evil. Although nobody can understand exactly how it happens, everybody can see the results.’
Mike was holding onto every word she was saying. He started to cry, and said he wasn’t worthy. Okay ! then I was out of my chair, holding onto his other hand. I said, “Oh yes you are.” He submitted to God. I told him I would tell everyone of our boys this story and tell them he is waiting for us. He said, “Good!” Maureen said in the days that followed, they talked about God’s peace. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ!
THANK GOD YOU TOLD ME THAT STORY!
Brent and Shanna were going to pre-marital classes. Brent had become very close to their minister, Jeff Payne. He was someone that Brent could talk to and confide in.
There were several times that we were all called to the hospital prepared Mike might be dying. Brent and I were sitting in the cafeteria just talking. I asked him if he thought his brothers were accepting that Mike might die? He said he wasn’t sure. I told him some people say he won’t let go until we accept it. ,I said “Hmmmm then again, big Mike?” Brent said, “Oh hell! He will go when he is ready and he will tell us to get over it. He fought a good fight.” Brent said, “Mom, you on the other hand, will wait until you tell us all good bye 500 times.” So true!
I told him that when Mike died, I had a beautiful story to tell him. I know for sure he is waiting for us at the gate. He insisted I tell him right then. Of course, Brent and I could not tell any stories without bawling. After I told him he said, “Oh Thank God you told me that story. The minister had asked me to talk to him and I was scared to death.” I said, “I understand.” He said,” I am so glad you told me that story. ” Brent said, ” I think you were put on this earth to help the sick.” Brandy said, “If I was sick you are the only person I would want to take care of me.” Thank you Lord
THE LAST DAYS
The last few days The boys were having meetings with the doctors every few days for updates. Mike’s numbers were still fluctuating daily. He was starting to get frustrated. He coud not eat, he was still in ICU and he wasn’t seeing any changes. He was having to wear a mask to breathe. It was horrible. It was the worst part for me. I still have nightmares about it. He needed to have some hope that he could go back home. The doctors decided to move him out of ICU. Maybe they knew that he was not going to make it, but I don’t think we were ready to accept it. He was so glad to be in a bigger room. I don’t think he realized he wasn’t going to get ICU treatment on the regular floor. Lynn was so special to him. Thank goodness she was on the same floor and would stop in to check on him. He would get angry with me when they did not come right away. I went out in the hall looking for the nurse, and he would be calling them on the intercom. He wanted to eat, and he was really getting angry about it. Thank God one of nurses from his ‘favorite nurses at Anderson Hospital team’ brought him popcicles. He was like a little boy. Brent and I were sobbing. Mike had told the boys to take his money and go buy him a new car and an airplane. They appeased him by taking pictures and showing them to him. I was not there, so I was not involved in that part. I would just go along with them and would tell Mike they were looking into it. One morning he was being so mean to Brent, that Brent had to leave the room. I jumped his case. I said, what is wrong with you? He said Brent was patronizing him. I told him we were all broken hearted he was sick but he wasn’t going to do that to Brent. Brent came back into the room, Mike took his hand and kissed it. I told Brent that was the grace of God. Some of the memories are a blur to me. I don’t know where Kent got the strength to tell Mike the chemotherapy stopped working. He told him that radiation was a choice and introduced the thought to him about going to the Hospice House. Mike wanted to think about it. I held his hand for six hours that day. We talked about heaven, and his sister Kathy waiting for him at the gate and my dad hugging him. He decided to have the radiation treatment. Trisha, one of his nurses, told me I got to ride in the ambulance with him. By now I was becoming an expert at lip reading. Many times I could interrupt what he was thinking without trying to say it. He had asked me to bring him his pj’s a few days before. Thank God I went home and washed them and remembered to bring them back to the hospital. Brent and I made sure he had on his pants to ride in the ambulance. That was for his dignity. I was so thankful. Dr. Tomlinson was in charge of radiation. He did not remember me at first. I was his daughter, Claire’s soccer coach. He told the nurse to put Mike at the front of the list. He appreciated all the time I gave my team when I was coaching.
They xrayed Mike to see where they were going to do the radiation. He wanted me to see the xray. Not good! As they wheeled him in, I lost it. The nurse asked me if I wanted to talk to a counselor, I thought, no I have one, my precious Lord Jesus. I trusted He would get me through it.
Mike kept asking the ambulance driver a question. He couldn’t understand what Mike was saying. I passed back a piece of paper. He wanted to make sure they knew to take him to Anderson not Greenville. We went to have the radiation for two days. When we went back to his room, the doctor was there. He said the cancer had gone into his blood stream. I felt the life draining out of me. I don’t know if Mike heard him or not. I asked the doctor not to tell him. We decided it was time to get Chase home again. He was leaving on a weekend trip for work, and would come home the first of the week. I told Mike Chase was coming home. He got the biggest smile on his face.. and whispered, Chasey Poo is coming home. I said, “yes!” When I left the room, Mike told me he loved me. ‘Thank you Lord for today!’ It was the last words he said to me.
One of the last days at the hospital, the nurse that said it was a love story came and sat next to me. She asked me details. I told her we had a great marriage, that he went through a mid-life but I still loved him, he was a good dad and a wonderful grand -father, a good provider and I was blessed being there with him. She cried with me, knowing we were losing him. We were whispering because he was asleep. When she left he opened his eyes and said, “thank you.” I had no idea he heard me but once again I am so thankful that he did. I think he realized the gift the unconditional love I had for him. Even though he didn’t feel worthy … wow! sounds like Jesus’ love for us.
As Trisha said in the beginning, it was a beautiful love story.
Lynn called me the next morning and said, “Kathy, get here now because he looks worse than I have seen him.” I grabbed a baseball hat and was out the door. ( with the conditioner in my hair from the night before!)
I prayed the entire way there, please let me say goodbye to him. Shawn, Kent, Brent, Shanna, Brandy and Erin, Dr. Doister and the nurses were in the room. The first thing I saw was that horrible mask. I was hysterical! I was screaming to Kent, I promised him he would not have to wear that mask any more. I went out in the hall. Dr. Doister followed me and said, “Kathy, if he doesn’t keep the mask on he will suffocate.” I went back in the room and looked him in the face and said, “Look for Kathy at the gate, and you can hold our baby, until I get there .
Brent had gotten in touch with Chase’s friends. They went to the airport and had to tell Chase his dad was dying. At that moment Chase called on the phone. I was a pretty big mess. I insisted Kent put the phone to Mike’s ear. ( I am sorry Kent I was so crabby with you) Chase told him he loved him. A few minutes later Melissa, one of his nurses, looked at me and said, “Kathy he is gone.”
OH my God! I was hysterical. Thank you to Brandy and Lynn for calming me down. I want Chase to know that I have no doubt Mike thought he was right there in the room with us. He was not going to let go until he heard his voice. After the funeral the nurses got together and brought the boys and me lunch. They all were so touched by our family.
Is it the fear of letting go?
Is it the fear of change?
Is it the fear of facing the pain alone?
Is it fear of abandonment?
Or is it the fear of trusting You?
So many times we put the blame on You Lord,
When the real truth is we may be in fear
of totally submitting to You.
I think I’m beginning to understand
Kathy Todd Stallo
HANDING FROM YOUR HEART
Handling a situation from your heart . If you are truly doing something from your heart and you are in God’s word learning from His knowledge on how to handle the situation, never doubt three things. One, that you made the right decision. Two, that he is with you through it all and three that He is handling it and you can let it go. 2008
You can ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it John 14:14
IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE
I said a prayer with Mike before I left that day. He said, “I am not afraid to die.” When I told my sister, Susan, about the day she said , ” Isn’t it funny. when Mike left you it brought you to your knees and you found a deeper faith! Now *you are using your faith to bring him to his knees.” I said, “That is the grace of God!”
I will always cherish the intimate moments that Mike and I had together. He told me that he never understood the pain and humiliation I went through with all of my surgeries, until he experienced it. Again, he cried. To see this side of Mike was so humbling. As much as he fought his emotions throughout his life, I was thankful he was dealing with them, and trusted me with releasing them. We talked about how shocking it was that in June we would be married forty years. I remember laughing and saying, “If you wouldn’t have gone through that stupid midlife!” Whatever happened to us as a couple, if he survived we agreed we would celebrate what God created, our marriage.
One of the life lessons I felt Mike learned was forgiveness. I remember him telling me in the past, he was not a forgiving person. I believe it was why he could not comprehend how I could forgive him. It was my gift from God, remembering when my mom saw in me as a little girl, a forgiving heart. My peace is, he got it!
MY FAITH IN YOU
By having faith in You I have learned so many lessons,
I have survived many adversities.
Through trusting You I have learned to live again.
You taught me to like myself
You taught me unconditional love
You taught me how to let go
You taught me that your
promises are true
You taught me to put my feet on the
ground and that You
would lead me to where I needed to be
You taught me all of this in Your timing
Then You taught me that there is always a lesson to learn in life.
You taught me to forgive others and myself.
You taught me that I am worthy of love
You taught me to listen and watch
To hear and to see that You are always there
You taught me to speak your word
You taught me to take risks and that I have choices
That is Your promise of unconditional love
You taught me to feel, to grieve, to forgive,
And lay it at the cross.
You taught me I have a million gifts
And to give them all back to You and
You would use them.
You taught me that I couldn’t fix it all
You taught me You would heal me.
You taught me to stand up for myself, and that my feelings and my opinions are fine.
You taught me how to detach with love
You taught me how to take risks and make choices You taught me to feel, to grieve, to forgive, and to lay it down at the cross.
You taught me that is Your promise of unconditional love
Ultimately, You taught me your promise of hope
By: Kathy Todd Stallo
An endowment that we can freely
give to others
Words of encouragement
Keep it up! Maintain, Sustain
To give someone encouragement
Is giving Your gift from God to another.
Courage, belief, to carry, I care…
By Kathy Todd Stallo
LIFE GOES FAST!!
I cannot believe how fast life goes. How ridiculous we waste so much time on trivial things. Control, gossiping, greed, jealousy and the bitterness that surfaces from circumstances.
I grew up with so much rage. There are days it is hard of me to shake off my anger in a situation. I am so thankful knowing it is a choice give my anger to God to handle. Laying it at the cross every night. Learning through my journey with Jesus, knowing, believing and trusting He is in my heart. Working through me is a peace beyond words and “All is well in my soul.”
Be Still & Know that I AM !
During a moments of complete
despair, I cried out to our Lord and said,
Are you there?
I heard Him say, Be still & know that I AM.
I looked up and saw the image of the cross in the tree.
When I was cropping the picture for a friend, I saw the image of the larger cross and the date the photo was taken. 7-7-7 He is there
THE OPEN DOOR
My door is always open to you
to share our memories
Just know that I am always the same
person that you left
Whatever adversity we are facing
I will stand firm in my beliefs
Put the truth on the table and God
will move a mountain and use our mistakes to teach
us a lesson in life.
DENIAL MINIMIZE FIX
If you are denying the true reality of a situation,
You are rejecting one’s needs
If you are minimizing the reality of the circumstance,
You are discounting the one that is suffering.
If you are trying to fix the situation, you are putting yourself in a dilemma
Trusting God is the simplest, yet hardest thing of all,
but He promises He will walk with You on the virtuous path of Your journey.
WE BOTH WILL BE WAITING FOR YOU AT THE GATE!
This entry is for my children. Hopefully, they will know me in a deeper way. My friends and family that know me personnally realize I never meet a stranger. On the other hand, I also have a very deep shy streak. I know that my mom and God knew this about me. Due to some learning disabilities. I am not confident in explaining things.
Therefore, I have had reservations I could explain to someone about our Lord Jesus Christ.
What if they doubted me, what if they challenged me and I could not stand up or think of the words that would validate my beliefs. What if they told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about.
I want my children to know;
I have been saved by our Lord Jesus Christ!
I believe because I asked Jesus to come into my heart.
I want them to know; that the forgiveness I have in my heart, is truly Jesus, who is in me, is working through me.
I want them to know in the past twenty years God has worked on changing my old thoughts and ways.
I want them to know, I believe in eternity!
I I want them to know, I believe God gives us a choice to follow Him. I want them to know I believe you can grow and have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. I believe God’s word about spending eternity together and that is why I believe God blessed me with being with their dad. When Mike left our marriage, I truly found a deeper faith. I think that Mike lost his faith for a while. He reminded me of the story in the Bible of the lost sheep.
I want my children to know I believe in my heart Mike is waiting on all of us, and we will spend eternity together. God’s promise!
He and I may not have done it all right, but we ended with love, forgiveness, faith and our family intact. That is what it is all about!
The times all the family was together in the waiting room were some priceless moments. The boys were trying to make us laugh. They took a picture of the biggest toilet you have ever seen.
*The keys! Brent is known to lose everything. We could not find his keys. Shanna said, ” I drove around looking for keys for an hour. They were in her pocket.” She told us the story about Brent and the sunglasses. Shanna said he picked put the glasses with turtle shell and rhinestones. They had just started dating, new in the relationship. I thought there were some other girls.
*The day I fell asleep in a chair in the waiting room. Evidently, a man came and sat in a chair next to me and fell asleep. They took a picture. I told them they best not put it on facebook. Precious Kent protecting Erin when she went with him to see Mike. Kent said, “He may look dead but he is not.”
*Chase was home for several weeks. There was a time he felt that he needed to go back to West Virginia. His company was so good to him about being here if he needed to be. Brent, our third son, and I shared the day shift.
He is self employed therefore he could work from the hospital. Shawn and Kent would take the night shift. Brandy listened to me make donkey noises everyday. Erin and Shanna were always there when I needed them. One of the nurses told me after Mike died that he was more vunerable with Brent and me. He acted a little more tough with Shawn and Kent.
*We told Mike he had to stop doing this. We were all exhausted but he said “I’m not tired.” He gave Brandy and Brent the finger. Brent said yesterday, “God, if he is going to suffer I can let him go.” Today, on the way down to the hospital. He said, “Never mind, I didn’t mean it.”
*M had a little accident … I went to get the nurse, his room number is 15 she said CLEAN UP on aisle 15! He even laughed.
* Divo is a classical singing group. They are phenomenal singers. My blind dog, Sadie, will not go to sleep at night unless I turn on their CD, ‘her music.’ It plays all night, therefore some nights we wait until she starts whining before we turn it on. Let me say here, I am not so sure that Sadie is not jealous of Chase being home. She certainly seems to whine more than usual when he is here. I came home from the hospital that night. Il Divo was blasting ,actually louder than usual. Chase was upstairs, I said, “Chase, did you have to come downstairs and turn on Il Divo for Sadie?” He said, “Yep right after you left.” It was so nice to laugh out loud, twice !!!!
**Funny three: As I had mentioned, Mike had lost his voice. When I got home he texted me to call the front desk because he couldn’t find the tv remote. The nurse died laughing. The funny part was I thought at first he was saying ‘he had no control’ oh me!
A SMALL WORLD STORY
Doug Douglas!. Doug works in the financial department at An Med Hospital. When he saw Mike’s name he came by to see if he was one in the same. He was! Doug went to grammar school in Baltimore, Maryland with Mike, and later on he went to Fort Hunt High School together. Doug was great about checking on Mike. They didn’t hang around with the same crowd, but Doug asked him if he remembered Phyllis Mopherilla? Mike said, “Oh Yeah! I remember her.” Oh me!
.” When we were sharing our memories he looked at me and said, “I know who Dave is. He was the baby we lost before Kent was born. “ He had not spoken of the baby we lost since 1976.
Although Kent was sick on Valentine’s Day, he drove over and left me a rose on the door step. Brandy told me ‘If she ever got sick she would not want any one by her side but me.’ Those were the moments that helped get me through the tough times.
* The times I didn’t tell the boys what he said. He told the Physical therapist, “I think my walking days are over.”
The endearing moment when we agreed when he got out of the hospital we would take his Harley and my airstream and go to Montana!! He said,’ wouldn’t that be fun?” I said, “Oh yeah!”
* *Mike’s sisters, Kerry and Misty, came and spent several weekends with him. I met them when they were nine and eleven years old. We were always close and they all had gone through so many losses. I did confide in Misty. Their older sister Kathy had died from cancer at age 49. Their dad died of cancer when they were in their teens. I knew I was taking a risk telling her. If Mike found out he may not have let me be there for him. I trusted her not to tell the others until it was time. I was deeply saddened that now they were losing their oldest brother.
THE CHAPTERS OF LIFE
Life is like a big suspenseful book.
Each decade being a new chapter of your story .
A new journey.
Some of it might be boring, some full of surprises and adventures,
and some so sad that you would stain the pages with your tears.
How did she live through that one?
But the grandest thing about my book is I know the ending. It is with You, Lord.
And today and for the moment I am so thankful
I finally feel peace.
My book represents the celebration to my life.
My accomplishments, my sorrow, my memories, my life lessons!
I am still here and my belief gets stronger in all situations.
My life is a reminder of the miracle God can truly do.
Kathy Todd Stallo
GOOD TIMES MOM
Mike had not made any prior funeral arrangements or burial plans. We met with one of the funeral directors to answer specific questions. We all agreed he would want to be buried and not be cremated. He did not know our personal relationship, and assumed we were living as husband and wife. He wrote survived by wife Kathy… I said, “well, I am not sure about that statement.” Shawn said, “Yes, that is how we want it!” Did we want one or two plots? Two! Who did we want to be the pall bearers? We all looked a little blank. He picked up on it and said, “well we suggest his friends.” Shawn and Kent chuckled and said, “ he really didn’t have any friends, he worked all of the time.”
He suggested people that he knew from church or a club he belonged to? Again, another chuckle followed with another no, he did not belong to any clubs or attend church, that we knew of. The funeral director took a deep breathe and said, how about someone from work? Kent said, “nope he would not have let them off work.” Then we all started laughing.
I said, “to be honest, his four sons were his best friends in their adult life.” The director thought that would be difficult for them, and I said, “Mike wouldn’t want it any other way.” We added our two nephews, Drake Martin and Beau Sterling.
When they lifted the casket into the hearse I thought I was going to go to my knees, but I was so proud.
A TRIBUTE TO OUR FIVE BEAUTIFUL GRANDCHILDREN
Mike and I were truly blessed with five grandchildren. Kaitlyn, Kennedy, Jesse, Cade and Jackie. Each with their own unique personality. I do not think Mike had a clue how much he would love being a ‘Pop.’ He knew my love of children so that was not a surprise. We both spoiled them in our own special way. I was proud that we always could come together as a family and celebrate all of their birthdays and accomplishments. I know that they were confused why we were not together. They do not need to know. They just need to know how much we loved them. We both hope they will continue our legacy of love and forgiveness, regardless of the circumstance. LOVE xoxoxox Pop & Nana
Ps… May they always remember us for Oreo cookies, smartest, and bubble gum ice cream and popsicles.
We asked Father Paul, from Saint Joseph’s church to say the mass for Mike’s funeral. He did a beautiful job. Kent and Shawn had chosen the burial plot. They asked me if I wanted to go see it before the service. I said no I would wait. As we were driving into the cemetary I asked God to give me a sign that Mike was ok. Across from his grave was a statue of The Good Sheppard holding his lost sheep. Wow!
Dear Father Paul,
It is difficult to find the words that adequately express our deepest gratitude, to you, for the beautiful Mass that you spoke for Mike. He would have been so proud to see his sons stand as men during the saddest time of our lives. They were all flooded with the memories of growing up at Saint Josephs, the times they were grounded for cutting up in church, or the time that I did… As I said to Mike when we were trying the muster the courage to walk behind his casket in the longest walk we have all walked together… Mike, you would be so proud. They have their suits on, their shirts tucked in, their good shoes on.. not sure if their socks match but all is well. Sincerely, Kathy Stallo and sons; Shawn, Kent, Brent & Chase and their families
As we left the service I looked back at Shawn. He said, Good Times Mom!
TO OUR FOUR SONS TO PASS ON TO THEIR CHILDREN
….January 28, 2012I read this to Mike when I was blessed with spending time with him when he was sick. He laughed and we both said, we did it well! As Shawn said… GOOD TIMES MOM
We grew up in the June Cleaver house.. our mom was so bizarre. She actually loved being a stay at home mom and probably would have had ten more kids, God willing. She insisted that we eat three meals a day.
Dinner was when dad came home and we ate together as a family…every night. Dad was so peculiar, that he was insistent on us using table manners every meal. Come on! Four boys! , and if we didn’t use the table manners , we got the wrath of actually having to do the dishes. ( And for petes sake, mom had to cook a four course meal every night, and could trash a kitchen) I think that would be under the child abuse laws today.
AND not to mention, Dad’s abuse in the yard. Saturday chores! None of our friends had Saturday chores. We had to work every weekend in the yard. Heaven forbid, if we were grounded for something that made no sense to us, dad used ‘extra chores’ in the yard to get one night of the weekend back.
They didn’t let us have a new car when we turned sixteen. They insisted that we get an old clunker to learn how to work on a car. Can you image how embarrsing that was in a school parking lot full of new cars. And we had to get a part time job to buy our own gas. If we wanted the ‘name brand’ clothes or shoes we actually had to pitch in for them. BOTHER! I am not sure what they were teaching us that time.
The one thing that they did do was we always had a great Christmas. Gosh! I could still believe in Santa Claus. They insisted on inviting their families for the holidays. That is certainly another chapter in the book. That might be why Santa was so good to us. Tolerating their family dysfunction.I am certainly glad we all turned out normal.
We knew how to push mom’s button. I have to say, she was A.D.D. and it wasn’t hard. What did she do? First of all she made up her own new rules: Warning! and Checks and X’sThen she took all of the ‘stages’ we were in and started a journal of all the things that SHE thought were funny. Of course we didn’t always agree with her humor. ( although I have to admit now that I have children she might have made some sense.) She even created a comedy business and uses some of our material.
Some people described Mom and Dad as the following: Your Mom is a marshmallow and you could cross her every day. I would never cross your Dad! That was not always the case. The moment that we were convinced that we had Mom figured out she would come after us, and didn’t care who was there. Each one of us has our own personal story with Mom on that one. I guess that is where the saying ‘ choose your battles came from)
They were right about Dad! THE LOOK said it all. It was scarey! He meant it,of course, I will never give my children the look. Respect! he insist on being respected. Just a side note… NEVER GIVE MOM THE LOOK!
They were opposites about some things: Dad was logical and Mom was emotional. She took a lot of slack being in a family of five men virsus one women. Actually, there are times that she is logical, And there times that her emotions might make some sense. Of course, I would never let her know it. She calls us the fraternity! And says, she was and is still to this day our biggest cheerleader.
They thought differently than a lot of parents. You know the ones that thought their children did no wrong? Not our mom and dad. I will say, they were the first to stand up for us when we were right but if we got caught, and we were wrong, they were the first to kick……..!
Grades were a tough issue in our house. Dad was the strict one on that one. They did accept B’s and C’s. We did not think it made any sense to study and have straight A’s. Dad was more the yes/no, black/white parent He did not care how we did it, he insisted we all have a college education. All four of us bucked him and went to ‘ almost college’ for a year. He did not give up on that one. Actually, that was a tradition from his father. Today, we all four have college degrees. Mom said that made him the most proud.
Sports were a huge part of our lives. Mom even started coaching soccer and created a strategy to teach how to stay in position. Motorcycle riding was also huge.
Mom was the worrier that we would get hurt and she was certainly over protective about the pool. She is still strict about that one. She says it is because she does not w ant any accidents or drownings. For Pete sake! What kid has ever drowned in a pool? She actually took it as a compliment that someone at the beach thought she was a life guard. Talk about hiding our heads in the sand.
Now this will really prove they are ‘crazy’ Their marriage didn’t last. That was hard on all of us. Probably the toughest on mom, you know that emotional thing. But, Mom insists on inviting Dad to all important events and even for the holidays. Now how in the world do you explain that one to your friends? Now Dad is doing it. Oh bother!
Mom’s biggest rule , as she says ‘ Do Not Call God by His Last Name!’ She has this weird thing called faith. She talks like as if God is her best friend. Oh ME! God only knows where that came from..Dad’s strictest rules, say yes sir and do what I say and tuck in your shirt . I am certainly glad we all four survived!! Amen
FEELING HIS PRESENCE
I often thought of Mike as one of the lost sheep. I think he, as a lot of people, lost his faith along the way. On the way to his grave site, I prayed ‘Dear Lord, please give me a sign he is ok” I looked across from his grave and there was a statue of THE GOOD SHEPARD. Thank you Lord.
When I lost my dad there were many times I felt his presence. I knew that I would feel Mike’s presence. After Mikes funeral we all went outside and looked up. There was a beautiful rainbow . Jesse saw it first, he looked up and said, “Hi Pop!” and Jackie blew him a kiss.
The first family birthday was Kaitlyn’s birthday. I knew Mike would show his presence. I was sitting in my dad’s chair. ( I had given it to Kent and Erin) All of a sudden I said, “Where are the sticky shoes?” I thought to myself, hi Mike. He was always known for his sticky shoes.
Nine days after he died was my birthday. My dear friend, Linda Weiser, came to spend the weekend with me. Chase brought me a home a little paper bag with a snickers and gum in it, apologizing he could not afford more. He had no idea that Mike had done the same thing 42 years ago.
Later that weekend Linda handed me a beautiful card. She and Steve asked for a Mass to be said for Mike’s soul. As I am reading the card, Linda said, “I am sorry that we could not get a mass said sooner.” I said, “You mean you did not know?” She said, “Know what?” You are having the Mass said on June 10th! June 10th would have been our 40th wedding anniversary. Linda said, “Oh he is there.”
A Dear God Letter. June 10, 2012
Thank you Lord for today. Thank you for blessing me with the memories of my marriage, forty years ago. I felt like Cinderella. It truly was a beautiful day. It was a dream I had since I was a little girl. Thank you for blessing me with closure when Mike died. It still feels so raw to say those words.
I was going to Cade’s baseball game. It was the first time I had gone out in public since Mike passed. I started to walk in the gas station and the door was broken. I walked in and the girl said, some man just walked through the door and it broke. I looked closer and she was wearing a Saint Christopher’s medal. Each story reminding me of a story with Mike.
Mike and I would watch Matlock, a tv show, everyday when he was sick. Ironically, Andy Griffith’s character acted very much like my dad. After Mike died it took me a few months to watch the show. I turned it on and the choir was singing All Is Well in My Soul.
A few months after Mike passed away I was in the pool with Cade. He was very close to Mike. Sadly, they did not have the chance to tell him goodbye. I knew that Cade was having a hard time. When I was rubbing his feet I said, “you know Pop let me rub his feet when he was in the hospital”. Cade said, “He did?” He told me that he did not cry as much as he did in the beginning. Although he was sad that he didn’t get to see him one more time. I explained to him that I did not think Mike wanted any of the grandchildren to see him sick . He really believed he thought he was getting better and would come home soon. . I said, “you know, we will see him again when we get to heaven. I know that for sure.” Cade asked me, “How will we know him? How would we recognize him.” I said, “We just will!”
Cade has had a bond with my dad, Jim. It is as if my dad is his angel. ( of course I believe that is a possibility ) I said, “You know Jim and Pop are in heaven saying: ‘look at that boy, sitting in the pool getting his feet rubbed.’ Cade said, “How do you know that Nana?” I said, “Because that is what I believe!!” He thought about it for a minute and nodded his head yes. Cade got such a look of peace over his face. Isn’t that great!!
A few days after Mike’s funeral, Jackie, our three year old grandchild was sitting with me. She looked up, looked around and said, “HI POP!” I thought I was going to fall out of my chair. I believe she truly felt his presence, his spirit. She looked at me and said: “Nana, pop is fine!” I said..
I BELIEVE HE IS!!!!
Ps… I love the nights I dream about him. Sometimes I wake myself up crying, remembering he died. I know I am still grieving but , as Ms. Morgan told me, God gives us tears to cleanse our soul. The few people that knew I was writing our story said they thought it would help with the healing process. They were right.
A FRIEND FROM THE PAST
I had mentioned Catherine Adams was one of the most Christian people on the block in Lakewood Sub-division. I said one, because there were certainly more. Linda Shirley was another. I have known Linda since Shawn, my oldest son, and Dave, her oldest son were two years old. They both will be celebrating their fortieth birthday this coming year.
We carpooled together and in between the seats in an infant carrier was her beautiful baby daughter, Paige. Paige is now the mother of two precious boys. Linda was always seeing the good in people. Our neighborhood was great about being there for celebrations and family losses . I remember taking some food to her house and she said, “Kathy, you are there for others before you are asked.” I did Paige’s hair for many of her recitals and school dances and chaperoned Paige and her friends to the beach one summer. I surprised Linda with a party for one of those ‘ big birthdays.’
In 1990 I created a motivational comedy business, Figwort and Co. TM The program focuses on communicating with others and your self esteem. The program is presented with a comedy character I created named Thelma P. Figwort. It also has puppets, songs, and a game. Linda has supported me with Figwort and Co. numerous times. She had one of my songs, “Family, Faith and Friends,” incorporated into a book written for her dear friend that died with cancer.
Now here is the funny part. We could go years without seeing each other, or even talking. Lives go in different directions. I love how God puts people together throughout your life, for his purpose and plan and in His timing. I saw Linda after Mike’s passing and I wanted to share our story with her. She was so touched. She said, “Kathy, you have to write the story.” I agreed. She called me the next week and wanted to edit it for me. OH ME! I knew that editing is certainly not my gift. I was so touched. I think she knew what she was getting involved in. She is so encouraging. I send her several paragraphs at a time. (I do not want to overwhelm her) She always has such a kind way of saying things. The first entries that I sent her, she laughed and said, “You write just like you talk.” With my ADHD, I go in several directions at one time. I am not sure she realizes what a gift of encouragement that she is blessed with. I am tr-uly thankful God has used her to help me write our story. I love when God uses our individual gifts to honor Him. I knew the moment she called me this was God’s work. I am truly blessed. Thank you dear friend, Linda Shirley.
FAMILY FAITH AND FRIENDS
When my dad was dying, he said to me, ‘How do people do this without family, faith and friends? Annette Cantrell Martin helped write a song with those words.
I am so thankful for my faith and the friends and family that helped me through one of the saddest times in my life. My four sons, my dear best friend from High School, Chris Dille, my sister Susan, my daughters in law, our neighbors: Joan Splawn , Anna Lollis, Carla Anothony, Brantley Isom, Bill and Alice West, Brenda Allison, Linda and Steve Weiser, Catherine Adams, John Shore and David Rice, Susan Wolfe and Mike’s family. They all grieved with me many nights.
Family Faith & Friends A song from the CD, Figwort & Friends
You can count on friends, family and faith.
To get you through all the days, when things don’t go your way.
You can count on friends near and far, and your faith will be with you, no matter where you are…You can count on Friends, Family & FaithWrite your problems in the sand, let the tide wash them away. Shout your problems to the sky, let the wind blow them astray
And always remember, you’re not alone, though at times you may feel like you are.
Every person and creature is here with you. You’re like a shining star!
So shine! For all the world to see, that your life be the way for others to be…all they can be ..
And together with your friends….
and together with your family…
and together with your faith,
you can celebrate life
..love every minute of each day
A special thank you to the Anderson Memorial Hospital Team
I cannot say enough about the nurses and the doctors at Anderson Memorial. I cannot say that Mike liked all of the doctors. He could be pretty blunt when he did not like one of them . In time, I think he began to accept all of them and knew they were trying to get him better.
The entire staff was there for us every minute. The boys would have a meeting with the doctors once or twice a week. I remember one time the Doctor came to me and said I had to start preparing the boys that he might not make it. I said, “you go for it!” He insisted that I had to. When I told them, they of course scheduled a meeting the next morning. I always let them meet with the doctors alone. I always felt it gave Mike some control and privacy .
Mike told the Chaplain he had been sick for a year. We all looked surprised. He asked us if that was right, did he misunderstand? Brent said, “Oh he is really private, we are not sure.”
The Hospital Pastor, Michael Babbington never gave up on Mike. He would approach Mike and ask him if he wanted to talk or pray. Mike would tell him to leave, over and over. One of the Mike’s last days , Michael saw me in the hall. He asked me how things were going, and I said I thought we were losing him. He said, “I want to tell you that I went to see him the other night. He wanted to talk. He told me he is tired of fighting for everyone. He asked him if he was in peace and he said yes. Not only did he tell the Minister he was ok, many of the nurses told me they prayed with Mike at night or held his hand. He told them he was not afraid to die and to make sure they told me . Praise God!
My dear Kathy…..It’s hard to write this, through my tears….oh, my goodness, Kathy…..what a beautiful story…..what a gift to your family…..what a beautiful message to the world…..what a message of hope….an encouragement to overcome adversity….a story of love, never-ending.
You have an amazing ability to put into words the things that are locked in other people’s hearts….what a gift, what a treasure. Your story is amazing, Kathy. God must be so pleased…
With love and admiration…
I cried the whole time. Absolutely amazing, and yet I feel like you made me watch Old Yeller all over again. It was really good, and I am proud of you for writing it. . You have a keen sense. Chase Stallo
I wrote Chase and said, ” there was a lot of healing through the process of writing our family story. I hope the same is true when you read it. Love,Mom
The book is amaaaaaazing! So good and poignant and funny and incredible!!! So proud of you!!!! Brandy Kent Stallo
This story is heartwarming, beautiful and inspiring. I will find you a publisher and then send it to Oprah. Every women needs to read this.. Brenda Allison
Kent, me, Shawn, Mike, Chase & Brent Stallo
We always celebrated our family events together
Shawn’s wedding in 2002