Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Conversation with my parents

Mom: Did you hear the gunshot around 3 a.m. last night?

Me: No. Are you sure it was a gunshot?

Mom: Yes.

Me: Well, if you hear anything about it on the local news, please let me know.

Mom: I feel sure it was a dog.

Me: A dog fired a gun? That really should be on the news.

Dad: It was a hunting dog.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Welcome to my neighborhood

Here are a few shots of my front yard. When I bought the house, I painted the front door black. There isn't much siding, but what siding I have needed painting. My niece Hillary and her new husband Tim painted it for me one day while they were in town for my parents' anniversary party! I'm so glad. I have so many things that I need to do to the house, and not enough energy to tackle them all without some help. The front of the house looks so much better now. They also helped me add some topsoil to my front yard (it had some sunken patches), and they helped me plant grass seed which has successfully sprouted!
I want my yard to look as good as the neighbor's across the street. See the bird perched atop my brick mailbox? Life is good in the neighborhood!

Healthwise, I have been really dragging in the two months since I finished radiation. I hear it takes time to bounce back, but I really didn't think it would be this bad. I'm hoping I can get up off the sofa more and enjoy every day of this life the Lord has given me.

Monday, August 17, 2015

One year ago today

It happened August 17, 2014 – exactly one year ago today. It was a Sunday, I was in China, and I had hosted the Sunday morning gathering at my home that day for my group of expatriate friends. I’d made breakfast and coffee for them. I think we even had a light summer a.m. rain, making me glad I wasn’t the one who had to go out that morning, as was usually the case. When they left in the early afternoon, I went out on my motorbike, did some sightseeing, and met up with Chinese friends at a coffee shop. I came home that evening, gave Mimi a doggy head massage, and reveled in the lovely day I’d just had. I was in excellent health with lots of energy, especially since going off statins two years prior, and going off of sodas, sugar and wheat one year prior. At 10:25 p.m., I got in my pajamas, stretched my arms into the air, and decided to rub my own neck, something I never did. It was then that I discovered a funny little hard bump on the back right side of my neck.

I checked the left side and found nothing. I didn’t know if a lump on my neck was normal or not, but the lack of symmetry startled me. I decided I would be at the clinic run by English-speaking Singaporean doctors when their doors opened the following morning.

The neck ultrasound worried my doctor, and he suggested I get it checked elsewhere, outside the country. My organization’s medical consultant recommended waiting two weeks to see if the lymph nodes in my neck were just swollen due to an infection.

I went ahead and took my scheduled train trip in which I traversed half the distance of China from south to north, headed to the northern port city of Dalian to meet up with colleagues and friends. I felt fine, but the hard lump on my neck didn’t go away during that week of travel. If anything, the rest of my neck felt tighter than before, something I told the medical consultant.

She arranged for me to have an appointment in Hong Kong, and I showed up at the doctor’s office there two weeks and two days after finding the lump. On Tuesday, September 2nd Dr. Chen, a graduate of Harvard Medical School, did a fine needle biopsy, and on Wednesday, September 3rd he called me back into his office at noon to tell me the news that I had cancer in my neck that had spread there from some other yet unknown part of my body. I assumed that since we just found it, it must be in the harmless early stages, but my doctor told me otherwise. He told me it was serious and that I should get home to the U.S. as soon as possible to get it taken care of.

I was stunned that this thing could happen to me at all, much less at a time when I had never felt better in my adult life. I had faithfully and meticulously done cancer screenings during annual physical exams. I had done everything I was supposed to do and probably more than what most people do. How could I have cancer, much less cancer that had spread, when I had done everything right?

I flew back to my home in China the next day, on September 4th. Under a heavy cloud of grief, I spent days trying to figure out what to do about my dog, closing out bank accounts, shredding papers, trying to pack, making travel arrangements, trying to make doctor’s appointments in the U.S. (I had to stay up at night to do this due to the time difference) and saying goodbyes as best I could. I only had five full days. How do you bring 19 years in China to closure in just five days? I didn’t know if I would ever be coming back to China, if I would ever see my friends again in this life, if I should leave my belongings behind (in case I returned to China) or would need them for a new life in the U.S. or -- in the worst case scenario -- not need anything ever again.

Now, by the grace of God, it is one year later. I have more hope and peace now than I did at that time.

The excellent news is that my doctor at MD Anderson says the cancer is gone now as far as they can tell -- but then again they haven’t seen my type of cancer very often, as I have the most unusual of cases. The request for complete healing is always in my prayers, even now, as it is in many of your prayers as well – thank you. If all goes well between now and the end of January, when my every-three-week maintenance IV treatments end, my doctor says I will be fit to return overseas.

God is surely the One who prompted me to touch my neck on that evening one year ago today, to give me warning before it was too late, something my cancer screenings had failed to do. God is certainly the One who stepped in to rescue me. I trust in Him to navigate these murky waters and see me through.

All I know is that – and I hope it never happens to you – my life unexpectedly changed forever, and it started one year ago today.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mimi joy

Mimi and I have been going on walks in the neighborhood lately, right around sundown when the weather is bearable. Mimi LOVES to get out the front door of the house to see what's going on in the neighborhood. Access to the fenced backyard just doesn't hold the same appeal for her.
Indoor exercise always seems to involve re-arranging things in the house. Mimi knows that toilet paper doesn't belong in the living room, so she brings it there to get a rise out of me. Smart little doggy knows how to have a really good time. She's the best. I wouldn't trade this little doggy for anything.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Guests at the anniversary party

In the previous post I told you all about the 60th wedding anniversary party for my parents, and in this post you'll get to see the guests who attended the party. It's a really long post, but worth it if it helps us remember the day and all the people who made it special!
Charles Dodson was my parents' pastor both in Carthage and Tyler, and as such, he knew several groups of people at the party. Here he says a few words about my parents and our family.
 Janette and Dale Pair, friends of my parents from Sunday School in Tyler
Visiting at this table are the Stantons from Pecos, my cousin Sherry from San Diego, my aunt Lynnell from Gary (in east Texas), my mom's first cousin Mana Bailey from Dallas, and Mana's cousin on her other side of the family.
My niece Hillary used to work at a bakery, so she knows how to cut a wedding cake into serving sizes. Hillary has been living in Montana, got married in Scotland this summer, and will be moving with her husband to Seattle in a few days.
 Karen and Jerry McMath from Carthage
 Kim Dingler Doan from Midland and myself; we've known each other since 5th grade.
Keith Taylor, my mom, and Keith's wife Vivian; Keith and Vivian are friends from Pecos (also, I know Vivian from college).
 Charles Dodson, Billy and Myra Morris of Carthage
 The Morris' and Louise Ashby from Carthage
 Tomye and Andrew Maxey of Carthage
 Bill and Sue Price of Carthage
 Sue Price and Charles Dodson
My sister-in-law, Patti Wilson; my brother Curtis Wilson; my first cousin Sherry Cass of San Diego (She probably wins the prize for traveling the farthest for the party!)
My mom's sister, Aunt Lynnell; my mom's first cousin Mana Bailey; Mana's cousin; at the table in back, the young man standing up is my nephew Matthew, next to my sister-in-law Patti and brother Curtis of Camp Wood, Texas.
 My mom and dad, Mary and Wheeler Wilson, enjoy the cake and snacks.
The across-the-street neighbor of my parents, Zach Burgess and his two children, Bliss and Brixon.
 Yvonda Miller of Tyler; she is a friend from my parents' church.
Vince and Jerri Caldronia; Joe Wilson, Jr. -- Jerri and Joe are brother and sister, and they are the children of my dad's first cousin, Joe. When we were children, we would play together.
My first cousin once removed, Joe Wilson and my first cousin Richard Yeager. Richard's wife Eddie was unable to attend the party, but Richard and Eddie Marie will celebrate 50 years of marriage on September 4th.
Dana Beauchamp Molinar of Midland (we know her from growing up together in Pecos), James Wilson (my brother), and Mr. and Mrs. Dan Seal of Tyler. My dad often was a substitute teacher for Mr. Seal at Whitehouse High School.
Dana Beauchamp Molinar and Kim Dingler Doan of Midland. Both grew up in Pecos, and went to high school along with us kids. They both worked at the sulphur mine too. Kim and Dana are cousins.
Ken and Arianne McEachern of Bullard; Ken is the retired pastor of Beall Chapel Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Texas. Arianne retired from Southside Bank. They visited me in China on several occasions.
 The crowd mingles.
 Mr. and Mrs. Dan Seal
 Harold Richardson of Tyler -- he is the Sunday School teacher of my parents' class.
Lorice and John Trahan of Tyler; they are in my parents Sunday School class. We're so happy that many Sunday School friends turned out for the party! They are a great group of people.
Tim Reusch, the newest member of our family. He eloped and married my niece Hillary this summer in Scotland. After leaving Tyler, they headed towards Montana to get their belongings before moving to Seattle. He's a hydroponics guru.
LaVerne Pingel and Valerie Wilson. LaVerne is the mother of my sister-in-law Laura Wilson, and Valerie is the daughter of James and Laura. Valerie lives in Bozeman, Montana, and flew in for the party (and got her wisdom teeth pulled while she was here). She might tie with cousin Sherry for traveling the longest distance to come to the party.
Tim Reusch, my nephew Nathan Wilson, and Nathan's 90-year-old grandmother LaVerne Pingel. Nathan's other grandparents are my parents, Wheeler and Mary Wilson.
Janette and Rick Stanton, whom we know from Pecos. Rick worked with my dad at the sulphur mine.
Pat Jenkins and his wife Bea also attended the party. We also know them from Pecos. Pat worked at the sulphur mine with my dad, and his wife Bea was a high school teacher when we kids were going through school.
Martha Richardson (her husband Harold is pictured elsewhere in this blog post) is a dear friend of my mother. The Richardsons are from Tyler.
My first cousin Richard Yeager talks to some of our relatives, including Joe Wilson. They are related to each other on my dad's side of the family. Richard's mom, LaRea, was my dad's older sister.
James Wilson gives the microphone to Pat Jenkins, who shares special memories of my parents from the time we spent together living in Pecos.
Friends Tim and Kathy Wade live in Tyler now, but we first met them when we served together at Rosemont BC in Montrose, Colorado. I was in Colorado from 1990-95, but the Wades were there a little longer than I was. Tim is now a hospital chaplain in Tyler and Kathy is now a high school teacher in Bullard (after having taught in Tyler a couple of years recently). They attended HPU, as did I, but they were graduated right before I got there.
 Bea and Pat Jenkins -- we know them from Pecos.
My mom's first cousin Mana Bailey (right) and her cousin who we had not previously met, but were delighted to meet!
My aunt Lynnell from Gary (near Carthage). She is the younger sister of my mom and we are glad to live near enough to her to visit relatively often. 
 My dad, Wheeler Wilson, says a few words to the guests.
 Here he is again!
My dad Wheeler Wilson, Lauren Burgess, Zach Burgess and their two cute children Bliss and Brixon. They were going to two birthday parties the same day as our party, so we were so thrilled they were able to come visit us for awhile before they had to go elsewhere! They live across the street from my parents.
 Laura and James Wilson, Pat and Bea Jenkins
My dad visits with his Sunday School class friend, James Lambert.

Blaine and Lola Johnson, Gene Miller, and probably others (some of whom unfortunately forgot to sign the guest book) -- I am so sorry I didn't get photos of you at the party! How did that happen? We're so glad all of you were able to come and share in the celebration of the greatest couple I know, my mom and dad. For whatever reasons, so few children get to see their parents celebrate 60 years of marriage. I am thankful to be a part of something very special. Thank you God for letting us get to this place in our lives.

60th Anniversary Party for my parents

My parents celebrated 60 years of marriage as of July 1, 2015. We, their children, had been planning -- for a long time -- to have an anniversary party for them to commemorate this hard-to-reach milestone. But when I became ill, we had to reschedule the party around my radiation treatment. We had the party on August 1st. We tried to invite everyone, but the invitation process was also a casualty of my radiation treatment. (Sorry if you didn't get an invitation and wanted one. We did not mean to exclude anyone.)
My parents, Wheeler and Mary Wilson, cut their 60th wedding anniversary cake. Given a choice, they went with chocolate for the cake.
 Here's the welcome table where guests signed a guest book and got name tags. 
Snacks included crackers, veggies, dips, nuts, mints, orange coconut balls, creme puffs, quiche, punch, etc.
 My sister-in-law Laura made a beautiful fruit punch.
 Here's a closer view of the cake. I just loved the way the cake looked! 
The table centerpieces had flowers, glass lanterns with candles, and photos of my parents' wedding back in 1955.
 Here's a bird's eye view of the centerpiece (at my house, not at the party).
 Guests go through the serving line to get snacks.
 One more view of the cake, because apparently I am obsessed with it.
Flowers on the cake table.

Photos of guests and festivities will be on another blog post coming up next! (It appears before this blog post.)