Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections of the year past... just hours from 2011...

A year ago we had just finished up 6 weeks of full brain radiation to John's brain tumors that had shocked us in late October by regrowing through his chemo...
Pat is showing the kids the radiation mask that John had to wear, while strapped down to a table, while the radiation moved across his brain in just the right place and frequency...  The scan done before we were to start the stem cell transplant... about a month later showed that the cancer was totally gone!  CR!  Complete Responce/Christ Rules! 
WE returned home to the open arms of our family and a late family Christmas celebration that was closer to New Years...Nancy and John made our hats for the celebration.  So with these visions of last NewYears/Christmas... I will take the opportunity to count the many blessings of the last year... Life is full of both the ups and the downs... so there might be some of those too, but when the brain cancer is no more it takes something pretty major to count as a low point...

In January and into February John and I snuggled into our cute little yellow house in Rochester and John was once again a "rock star" in making it through his stem cell without many problems... we were home about as quickly as we could be... other than both of us coming down with pneumonia before he headed back to college, and getting a whopping dose of antibiotics together, and recovering quickly... we had shared so much for that year... it was a bit scarey to be thinking about seperating..

But come September... John returned for his junior year of college at the U of M and moved into his farmhouse fraternity with his "brothers", who had supported him through his rough battle...even all shaving their heads in support when John lost all his hair about week 2 of radiation.  It hasn't been the easiest transition and there are definitely some things that are different with his ataxia on his left side causing some slowness in most of the activities that he took for granted...

Then there were those phone calls telling me how much he missed me or that he was worried about a headache or new problem that kind of made him get worried about himself... the red flag went up when he leaned over to me at mass and told me that he had been noticing a change in his vision... the scan that was a couple weeks away was moved up to the next week... all continued to be good!  But there just needed to be that reassurance as that was the main symptom of his original tumor... it looks like he is just getting a slight bit of nearsightedness from his dad...blame genetics! 

As for me... I am now a nursing home nurse and other than the storms making the winter interesting... a challange to get there and then stuck there for over a day with more than one shift for these old bones... I am adjusting and thinking that I can do my hospice in a nursing home too... holding the hands of those that are leaving this world and sharing some prayers... 

Our house is full of little ones as since Thanksgiving our daughter, Maria and her two little ones have moved in with us... Maria has led me deeper, as she has been doing ever since she left for college at St Thomas Catholic Studies and went to Rome for a year, came back and joined the Poor Clares for 5 months and then finished her college plus Masters and married, Joe... now with 2 children and Joe in the military... she models for me to find no reason to not make it to mass everyday and to raise her children to be saints!  She has confronted me on some of my major faults in life - romance novels that I read one after another for a period of years... and there is something quite soul serching about a daughter looking at you with pleading eyes and asking you to change... I totally expect to make some big improvements in my life with all the pain that is involved while my sweet daughter is here with me!  Ouch that hurts, but boy is it ever good for me! 

After John's stem cell and helping out on the farm for the summer plus slowly recouperating his immune system... we celebrated at the end of the summer - August 28th with Nancy and Bill's wedding!  Bill was so involved with the whole year with John - as they just started to date about the same time that John discovered that he had cancer!  So for their dating, engagement, making Thanksgiving for all of us in the Cities in the midst of John's radiation, and then to have all of Nancy's siblings including a cancer free John in the wedding... WE celebrated the most glorious amazing wedding mass and then super amazing party with all of our family!  Then the most amazing news of the two of them,who had waited so long for each other...they were expecting a baby in mid June!

WE got sudden word from our daughter in KC - little sister Hallel- that she would be leaving for France on the 4th of July!  She wanted to see us before she left...especially her John-John and her little 5 year old Simon, and there were many of us that had never been there to see her... I... thinking that it would just make more sense for her to come here... called ls Benedict - the person in charge there - and asked if Susan could come here instead.  Her answer..."You are our family too, and we want to share our life with you."

"Even if 4 carloads come at 4 different times?"  "Yes!"  So that is just what happened... 4 carloads of Verlys went there over a weeks time and all of us got there to see her and to experience her life!  We were all deeply touched and now can speak of her and the life and prayers that they have together and all be on the same page...  we all sing the blessing song they sing before meals with huge smiles on our faces remembering them and our special wonderful little Sister Hallel... "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" 

Now there is a strong possiblity that we could be going to France for her first vows this August of 2011!  That will be a glorious time and the world traveler, Nancy, will have her new little baby, so that will probably keep her here at home... time will tell, but we are telling her that we need a lot of warning so that her farmer dad can carve the time off and get to see her community of Saint- Pierre, France.  It is on what used to be a large farm in southern France close to the Pyriranies Moutains...

Our first grandchild is old enough to start school - Simon Lanoue... he is attending the same Catholic school that his mother and grandfather attended!  We discovered through preschool screening that Simon is in the autism spectrum... so with two years of preschool he is happy and doing well and we are amazed at how sweet and caring and deep he is... he amazes us with his heartfelt prayers, and "pearls" that capture the moment in a profound way!  He is a joy and a blessing and yes there are some challanges that go along with all of those things... this is what is called the Paschal Mystery and that is where the cross enters in to become the tree that gives us life!  
Well, I could go on and on and there is soon to be a gathering here with food and kids and joy and probably a few tears in the mix... We have so much to be thankful for as the year comes to a close and so much to look forward to in the next... every 3 months a reassurance that the cancer is gone... a new grandchild... and a big step for Hallel.. and then all the day to day steps that we need to take with Jesus at our side or when we are weak and need Him to carry us!  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!

Bless-bless, Barb
"I received a letter from a wealthy Brazilian man.  He assured me that he had lost his faith - not just his faith in God but his faith in humanity as well.  He was fed up with his situation and everything around him.  He only thought of suicide.
One day, while walking down a busy street downtown, he saw a television in a store window.  The program was about our Home for the Dying in Calcutta, and it showed our Sisters taking care of the sick and the dying.
The man confessed that when he saw that, he felt the urge to kneel and pray, after many years of not ever kneeling and praying.
From that day on , he recovered his faith in God and in humanity, and he was convinced that God still loves him."

Two years ago Susan graduated from St Thomas in December... I have shared the story of "Susan and the bow..."  Today as I am heading out into a cold world to make it to work over icey roads... my heart is warmed by this sweet memory of my baby girl - #4 of 4, who is now far away in France.... happily answering the "call" to be His Spouse!
We all have those warm memories that carry us through... many times that is all we have when we lose a loved one to death.  For us to have Susan/Hallel only an ocean away is by far a lesser distance than having to wait until death to be reunited with her!  We have really nothing to mourn!  I do feel such a connection with her at mass, as she shared with us when she left -"I will be united with you in the Eucharist, mom!"  Yes, I know that and realize that, and it is a wonderful time for me to know that my daughter, little Sister Hallel, is each day united to her Spouse, Jesus Christ, in the banquet of LIFE!
Sweet Jesus, I love you and need you this day as I go to serve in the midst of the storm.  Thank you for the warm thoughts of my sweet youngest girl, whom you have called in such a special and powerful way!  To see her joy abound and her specialness be used to serve the world and the poor representing Christ in our midst... May other families be open and encourage their children to listen to the call and answer with a resounding "Yes!"  So many blessings are to be had and the boring same old pattern of materialism and self involved seeking is broken out of to find LIFE and LOVE!  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!

Bless-bless, Barb
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."  John 3:16 - the sign that is held up in the front row at games...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A year later... as we approach the New Year 2011!

Listening to the storm howling outside... knowing that the half inch of rain that fell this morning, and then froze in place, is helping to hold the piles of snow on the ground in place... wondering what the morning will bring as I stuggle to work at the nursing home... I am reminded of our last week of radiation a year ago... it ended a few days after Christmas, and we struggled to get home just ahead of a storm then also!  We had managed to be there the first night home for Maria and her new baby boy, David, born on Dec 21st, and then she allowed us to get home to spend a snowed in Christmas with Pat on the farm...  Then we had a window to get to Rochester for the last few days of radiation... followed by the first clear scan - CR - Complete Responce/Christ Rules! 
Therese all dressed pretty for her little brother coming home from the hospital!  A new grandson as well as a son cured of brain cancer - it doesn't get much better than that!  Now a year later having the little family living with us, and John here for Christmas break with continued healing and back at college life...  Nancy married and expecting her first child, Ruth and Paul living a happy life... much like the life they had been blessed with while growing up, Hallel in France with a warm new sleeping bag and an exciting life with her spouse, Jesus Christ...  The blessing are many and add up as they are counted and appreciated with deep gratitude... Jesus, we trust you and thank you! 

Down the hill the new son, grandson, brother arrives home for the first time!  Rejoice!
  Bless-bless, Barb
"Virgin-born, we bow before you:
Blessed was the womb that bore you;
Mary, mother meek and mild,
Blessed was she in her Child.
Blessed was the breast that fed you;
Blessed was the hand that led you;
Blessed was the mother's eye
Watching o'er your infancy.

Blessed she by all creation,
Who brought forth the world's salvation.
Blessed they who ever blest.
Love you most and serve you best.
Virgin-born, we bow before you:
Blessed was the womb that bore you;
Mary, mother meek and mild,
Blessed was she in her Child."  Hymn from evening prayer

In the midst of a flashback...

As I shared last evening.. Nancy's request for a picture they would consider enlarging and using as artwork on their wall... has opened the floodgates for me and also opened an obsession that I admit to... my pictures.  The old ones are in albums and I am regularly scanning them into my computer from the 30 or more albums that I have plus that many for each of the kids - at least one for every year they were alive, when they left home for college.... then it slowed down some, but now I have thousands on the computer!  Sigh!!!!!!!!!
I am writing later today not because of any other reason than changing from sledding pictures with the kids the day of our big family job of preg checking... deciding that the old ones I have been looking through are much more special and using them instead... Adding pictures to my blog is a slow process and I think it is safe to say that it is a definite labor of love or obsession! 
I do admit to being on the mend today, and hearing about how sick both my daughters, Maria and Nancy, are... I am hoping that the flu shot that I got is going to help me be less sick as I have to go and work day shift for the next 3 days! 
I think that I am liking these pictures taken early summer/late spring better, because I am already feeling a bit of cabin fever, with the early winter, and being closed in this house with little ones as well as Joe and John... I think that the weather is a bit confused today also as rain is coming down on the huge snowpiles!  The house is quiet now as the little family went over to spend time with Ruth and the kids at their place, and then Ruth will have the 4 while Joe takes his wife out for a nice lunch date!  Their time together is coming quickly to a close! 
Joe was amazing us by describing a meal for him in the military... the marching along the food line side stepping... the ducking into the salad bar in formation and bringing your plate to the food... the standing at a table until there are 4 of you and holding your cup up in front of your chest with your elbows up and then going to get their beverage as a group... drinking all their water first then the other beverage can be had throughout the meal... kind of crazy and wild! 
I always find myself in a very agitated state inside when I am given a project to do with my pictures... I guess also knowing that there are many other things I should be doing than sitting here... If I had cleaned and done some of the other jobs first... maybe I would be more calm and happy.
I just found this amazing quote by Venerable JPII  in a gift that I got for teaching religion..."A woman's role in the Family"
"It is disservice not only to children but also to women and society itself when a woman is made to feel guilty for wanting to remain in the home and nurture and care for her children...
"It is also necessary to counter the misconception that the role of motherhood is oppressive to women and that a committment to her family, particularly her children, prevents a woman from reaching personal fullfillment and from having an influence on society.
How I love to see the kids all together!  It would be amazing to believe that we could all be in France for Susan/Hallel to take her first vows!                      "No responce to woman's issues can ignore a woman's role in the family or take lightly the fact that every new life is entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying it in her womb."  Vererable John Paul II... His words are so true to my ear and remind me that my only hearts desire was to have a family and be here for them in all times of their growth!  I was blessed to be able to be here and "be a stay at home mom" for 14 years until John started school...  I still fought going to work as a nurse, but can see that to care for others in this way is also a gift for me.

Life is so never boring!!!!!!!!!!  It is the best way I describe the ups and downs that can come upon you at any time of the day or night!  I think that is why I feel so driven to capture the facinating things that are happening with that artistic eye to share it with the world! The many attempts to accomplish that leads to the huge amount of pictures that I must sift through to find the ones that I am looking for and that makes me become slightly unhinged!
But to find the treasures.. the ones that have my Susan in them today are pulling at my heart stings and I find the tears burning in my eyes... trying to form and run down my face as I see her in the midst of family time... WE miss her so much...
With this in mind and heart... I would like to share more from the Christmas letter we received in the mail a few days ago from the community in Kansas City..." To conclude, let us tell you how me met Jesus in the neighborhood...  Three of us were on mission that day.  We had begged for our lunch as went and thanks to the generosity  of a Mexican family, we had received all the necessary.  We were sitting on a low wall, in the street, to eat our sandwiches.  An old man came, pushing his little cart full of empty cans he was collecting.  He looked tired, so we invited him to sit for a while and to share our meal.  He sat at our side and ate with us.  He offered us to drink coke he had in his bag.  When we had finished, he stood up and said: 'Give me your hands!  Let us pray to thank God!.... O Lord, I give you thanks for this meal and for this encounter.  You sent your disciples 'without silver nor gold.'  They have nothing but your Name.  And yet, if they share the little that they have, we know that you will never let them lack of the necessary and that you will pay back a hundred fold!"  The name of this new friend was:  JESUS!"
So.............with that kind of community forming our family in a new and wider and more amazign way.. how can we allow ourselves to be sad at the ways that we miss Hallel being here to be a part of the day to day of this small family that we have... I do know that part of her sacrifice is to miss her little neices and nephews... especially her little Simon!
I need to get this done!  Today with the prophetess, Anna, being in the Gospel for today... it speaks of how "all those who are awaiting redeption"..."Man had waited and tarried for the morning, and now the day was breaking.  He found set before him the perfect figure of a man - gentleness, self-sacrifice, hatred of hipocrisy and cant, sympathy for the frailties of human nature, and the fierce love of justice, truth, and innocence.  Suddenly he discovered that the wonderful word, which his mind had vaguely formed for itself as the ideal of human nature, was made flesh and dwelt among us."  Fr Bede Jarrett
Lord, so much pulls at us in this world and causes us to be distracted from you... thank you for those islands of peace we are gifted with to pray and be grounded in your amazing truth!  WE hunger and thirst for you and want to love and serve you in our midst - in our families first of all and then all those we encounter as we go forth into our jobs and communities and neighborhoods!  May we "see and know You" in all those that we encounter!  Jesus, we trust in you!  Amen and Halleluia!
Bless-bless, Barb
"...the family is the living home in which humanity is nurtured, which banishes chaos and futility, and which must be protected as such... The individual family cannot survive; it will disintegrate unless it is kept safe within the larger family which guarantees it and gives it security.  So this night needs to be the night in which we set out once again on our twin paths:  we set out on the path to the new city, the new family, The Church, and dedicate ourselves irrevocably to her, to our heart's true home: and then, on the basis of this family of Jesus Christ, we can proceed to grasp what is meant by the human family and by the humanity which sustains and protects us."  Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A request from Nancy for some old pictures...

Nancy wants to blow up one of the farm pictures -probably with cows and calves- to put on their wall... So I have been sitting here going through them to send her to make the big decision... With internet blinking on and off - mostly off- I am struggling with that as well as just not feeling well... we all have a "bug"... fluids and rest for the next days until I am to work 3 day shifts in a row over the New Years Holiday... Lord, give me the strength and healing so that I can minister to those in need... cheerfully and well!
I found this one of all 4 girls helping me can about 4 years ago... how fun that was for me!  Now baby Mary is 4 1/2 years old... here she is just a few months old, and we all fought over who got to hold her while the rest did the many tasks involved in a big canning project!
Here is little Simon at about 6 months, who  is up close and personal with some of our most special "pet cows" - Baby and Bertha... Bertha has had about 15 of some of our best calves and is a wonderful cow to work with over the years with wonderful calves at her side at the county and state fair... John has gotten many awards with her and her calves and had an enjoyable time working with her too!  This year we just discovered yesterday that she is "open" and is not pregnant... that means that after fattening her up for a few weeks or months... she will climb in the trailer and make the trip to Pipestone as a slaughter cow.  John is especially sad and all of us are sad to know that her wonderful life here on the Verly farm has now come to an end... She is so gentle that she let Baby Simon have his handfull of feed 6 years ago... Grandpa took it away from him before he could get it into his mouth... well,most of it!
Little one year old Mary with the cows in the pasture in front of our house... 2007
"It is said that humility is truth.  The path that will make us more like Jesus is the path to humility... Pride destroys everything.  To imitate Jesus is the key to be meek and humble of heart."  Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

A surprisingly nice day for a big family job...

Yesterday was a nice day compared to some that have been the case this long winter already.... The small ones headed out with grandma and Ruth... while the rest were taking up positions at preg checking, vacinating and treating with pour on - delousing the cattle.... The vet had two daughters along... one to record the numbers and the other to do vet work... as she is prevet... Quite a scene...
Mary took an excursion out to see the heifers - including the 3 that were "broke" for showing this summer... that is where she met and named Snowball and Banana...
I am a bit under the weather today... we all are coming down with something these days, so I am going to write minimally today and let the pictures talk about our family farm day... it is carrying over today to getting the heifers vacinated in a short while.
Mary leading the way to where the heifers are... the action has begun at the headgate we go over there for a bit on our way.
Coming Mary!
"What you doing dad?" .... "Making sure there is a baby in their tummy, Mary."
"Hi, daddy.  Mary is going to show me Snowball..."  "Ok, Davey, see you later!"
"Look mommy, Mary is petting Snowball's nose!  She is super cool and brave!" 
"Let's see if we can slowly walk up to her too!  Don't worry Snowball we won't hurt you... we just want to look into your big brown eyes."
"Grandma are you coming too?"
"Davey, do you remember Snowball and Banana when they lived at our house this summer?  Haven't they gotten a lot bigger?"  "yeah, a whole lot bigger!"  Says little Davey inches away from the black and white animals that are towering over his head!
The two year olds hanging out with snuggley dog, Lilly as the loudness of preg checking is all around them!  The clang of the headgate, the bellow of the cow when Paul gives it two shots, and the Vet "sleeves it" to discover if there is a calf in her womb...
They don't seem to notice garndpa yelling to get the cows to go into the two alleys leading to the headgate...
Cute alert!
Mary is engrossed in all the activity and looks a bit overwhelmed by it all!
The noise level seems to have gotten to her... Some of the cows can really bellow loud and it is a bit scarey for the little ones to hear!
Mom is always a safe person to stand by... and Lilly is very comforting too!

Now Ruth is helping and needed to get them to move up the ally and into the headgate... with 100+ cows... you need to keep them moving up and it takes a while... Mary wants to hang out with her mother up there and watch the action..
Davey wants to be by mommy too, but now the cows are starting to act up by all the strange little kids around, and that is not very helpful...
Grandma needs to get the kids out of the way and a place where the cows don't see them...
Therese is interested to see what daddy and Uncle Paul are doing...
Daddy is done giving shots to this one.
That is a better spot for the two little ones to watch, but soon the snowpile is calling them, and it seems to be a better thing to have the kids out of the way in the midst of all the craziness!
I think that I am going to go and crawl into bed until I am needed for something around here... there seems to be bugs that are getting to most of the adults... soon the kids will follow.  Jesus, thank you for a good day, and family that makes it all work and interesting at the same time!  We need each other to make it all happen.  Jesus, we trust in you! Amen and Halleluia!

Bless-bless, Barb
"Another day somebody knocks on the door.  It's a man that we often meet and greet on the street.
"Hello sisters!  I came because I have something to tell you.  I am Rafael.  I am a Jew and I believe that Jesus is the Messiah.  You know, before you came here I was afraid to walk down the street;  I always carried a knife with me... But now, you know, it changed!  When I walk in the street, the people wave at me!  I am not afraid any more:  I can see the angels on the roof of your house: they watch over the neighborhood! I can feel Peace radiate from your house!  This house is a Light House!" Rafael did not know that the Little Monastery will be named "Lumen Christi" - the Light of Christ... From a Christmas letter that we received yesterday from the little Sisters in Kansas City, where they live in an old Belgian rectory in the poor part of town, and are half way through fundraising to build a "little monatery" on the land they are now living on... They will have a permanent residence in the center of our country and we are overjoyed - having our daughter, Susan/Hallel a member of their amazing community!  Thank you, Jesus!