Memories Passed On

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When I was a young child, I would go to my paternal grandparent’s house for a visit during the summer. My grandmother was a small lady who always wore a dress and stockings, even when she worked outside in the garden. I remember that she always wore an apron with a tissue in the pocket and she smelled like Rose Milk. She was a soft spoken lady who was loving and kind to me. My grandfather was a big man who was the barber down the street in the small town where they lived. Sometimes he would let me sweep up hair at the barbershop then pay me a quarter so I could walk down to Nell’s store to buy myself candy.

Everyday at lunch, my Grandfather would come home at lunch for his meal, then take a nap before he went back to the barbershop. During his nap time, my grandmother said we had to stay quiet. We would go to the couch and she would pull out an old worn shoebox that was filled with postcards. All of her siblings, children, and friends would mail her postcards from their travels. The box was full. She would pull out one card at a time and tell me a story about each card. I would learn every detail of that vacation. I know that my grandmother was just trying to keep me quiet, but each card was a different adventure and I loved hearing the stories.

When I was older, my grandmother gave me that worn pink shoebox full of postcards. She said she wanted me to have them because I always loved her stories. I put her cards in an updated plastic shoebox and I started collecting postcards myself. I bought a notebook and put my postcards in plastic sleeves like you put ball cards in. I have a friend that was a flight attendant and she would send me cards from all over the world. I have a friend in Montana that sent me cards. I have friends from church and family that will send me a postcard from their travels. My collection is now as big as my grandmothers. I love to flip though the cards for memories. My grandmother passed away after having Alzheimers for 10 years so she forgot all of the memories, but I haven’t.

What? I’m English?

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I have always loved history and genealogy. I love reading and learning about my roots and with a last name of Hennessee, I always knew that my father’s people came from Ireland. I learned at a reunion that our family came from a seaside town called Youghal in County Cork in Ireland. There is the old Dunmahon Castle that was built before 1541 that was occupied by the O’Hennessy family that is now in ruins. I am not sure if that was my old family home place but it makes a good story in my head.

I was raised being told that I was Scotch-Irish. With my mother being a pale skinned red-head, I assumed that was my Scottish side but I don’t know much about my Scottish roots.

I had a maternal great grandmother that was believed to be a full blooded Cherokee Indian. I do remember as a young child walking through the woods with my grandmother as she walked with a wooden stick and had a cloth bag hanging on her shoulder. She said we were looking for plants. I would find the plants around the base of a tree and pull them straight up out of the ground with their long roots intact. She would put the plants in her cloth sack. I have since goggled this plant and it is called Pipsissewa or a dragon weed. I have no idea what she used it for, but now as an adult, I wish I did.

I decided to take a DNA test. It is something that I always wanted to do and when I got extra income tax money, I bought myself a kit. I thought that I would be Scottish, Irish with just a drop of Native American blood. My cousin said that he could never find a paper trail to confirm that we were of Cherokee descendents, so maybe the DNA test will give me some answers. Plus, it will be fun.

My results came back saying I was 84.4% English, 14.6% Irish, Scottish and Welsh and 1.0% Middle Eastern. What? Well, that is a surprise! 84 % English? Middle Eastern? That is definitely not what I expected. I have always had an interest in British history and have a whole shelf of books on the Tutor period of history. I also took British Literature I, II & III classes. And my daughter used to go through spells in high school where she spoke with a British accent for days. I thought it was her trying to be a Spice Girl, but my son thought she was doing it just to annoy us. But maybe it was just in her blood! I had already planned to have the Celtic Tenor’s song “Caledonia” played at my funeral but looks like I need to change it to “God Save The Queen.”

Jockey’s Ridge

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I was visiting the North Carolina Outer Banks for the first time with my friend Becky. We stayed in Kill Devil Hills for our three day visit with a whole list of things that we were going to see. My co-worker Karen said for us to make sure we went to Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head, which is the tallest natural sand dunes in the Eastern US. I thought, it is sand. How can that be exciting?

We arrived at Jockey’s Ridge about 7:00 p.m. and had an hour on the dunes before it closed for the evening. There was a boardwalk through the trees and a long path across the sand lined with driftwood. We strolled down the path and I was wondering if a whole hour would be necessary.

We were told that the sand could be 25-30 degrees hotter than the air temperature, so in the summer months, the sand can reach up to 125 degrees. It is easy to get lost in the dunes and there was the mention of unpredictable lightening storms. This sounds like a grand old time!

Our group walked around a corner and there was sand as far as we could see. The longer we walked, the more it looked like you had wandered into the desert. It wasn’t too hot because the sun would soon be going down and the temperature was pleasant. We finally made it to the dunes and it was a straight up climb. The sand was so deep that you would sink into the sand above your ankles. At times, the dunes were so steep that you would have to climb on your hands and knees. I noticed that people would climb in single file, walking in other people’s tracks and it was a little easier. When you reached the top of the dune, there was another to climb. You were so high up that you could see all the way to the ocean. We started climbing the next dune and I was starting to wear out. I was beginning to think that I was not going to be able to make it to the top. Becky was already out of sight because she is fast and I am a slow mover. When I finally got to the top of the next dune, it was like you were on another planet. People had blankets on the sand, children were running and flying kites. It was great! I know a lot of people didn’t make it to the top but what a treat it was to feel like you were standing on top of the world. Then the most amazing thing happened. The sun started going down. Everyone stopped what they were doing and things got quiet while everyone watched. The sun goes down everyday, but it was like we were all witnessing something that we had never seen before. Everything stopped as we all stood silently and watched. It was one of the most beautiful things that I had ever seen. The show ended and we all started back down the dunes. It was a brisk walk to get back to the boardwalk before it started getting dark. We reached the parking lots all sandy, a little sweaty but smiling. I am really glad that I climbed the dunes. It is something that I will remember forever.

My Pop

 

Me with my Pop

 

We are coming up on the two year anniversary of the loss of my dad. It is hard to believe that it has been two years already. Pastor Keys said it usually takes a couple of years for you to settle into a new normal without your loved one. For about a year, every memory of him made me cry. I would be working at my desk and a cloud of sadness would come over me and the tears would start with any warning or trigger. Co-workers tiptoed around me for fear I would start up again. There was like a loop of film that constantly played in my mind about his last day and his death. Now the good things about my daddy bubble to the top more than the loop of this last day. I think more about how much fun that he was. He was the fun dad that liked to play with his kids.

My mother went to work early, so my daddy always woke us up in the mornings to get ready for school. He would flip on the light and say, “Up, up, up! Rise and shine!” and then he would put his hands on the bed and make it bounce right by our faces. Shannon and I would whine, “Stop!” and he would grin and bounce us that much harder. He would ask, “What do you want for breakfast?” which meant what kind of cereal did you want. One morning I told him that I thought I wanted a hotdog for my breakfast. I went to wash up and get dressed and when I went to the kitchen, there was a hotdog with ketchup at my place. I felt so bad for my crazy request, but at the same time, I felt very loved.

When we got in trouble with our mother, she would send us to daddy saying, “He is going to have a fit!” We would walk to daddy and tell him that we were in trouble. He would walk us outside and we would hike through the woods to the creek instead of being punished. We would play in the creek for hours. Or he would drive us to Mal’s for candy telling us that we need to mind our mother. Once he drove us up to Cane Creek because they had some flooding. I can remember just riding around looking at the destruction before he took us back home. He never raised his voice to us or never gave us a spanking, even if we needed one.

Because my dad was a diesel mechanic, sometimes he brought his work home. He took me to school one morning in a big Mack truck. Just picture that big truck in the drop off line with the other parents in front of the school. I begged him to please drop me off away from the school and let me walk. Nope, he would not hear of it. He drove me right up to the front door of my high school and when I opened the door to climb out, he blew the big, loud air horn. Everything came to a complete standstill and even kids were hanging out of the classroom windows. He also took me to school in a Greyhound bus once.

My daddy had Alzheimer for ten years. He had forgotten everything about working on trucks. He had forgotten that he just ate a Little Debbie Nutty Bar (his favorite) and would eat a whole box. He had forgotten most of his relatives. He had forgotten how to do simple things that used to come naturally to him. But, he never forgot his wife, children or grandchildren. He knew and called us by name until the day that he died. That was the best gift of all.

Reading

Reading has been important to me for my entire life. I love words. I love clever sentences. I love unexpected endings to the books that I read. In the first grade at my small rural school, the teacher called my parents to say that I had read all of the books that she had to offer so she suggested that I start reading the encyclopedias at home. For younger folks who don’t know what an encyclopedia is, it is kind of like a small hard copy of Google, only it goes out of date very quickly. Ever since that time, I can’t read enough. I told my teacher that I wanted to work in a library when I grew up. As an adult, I am usually in the middle of two books at all times. I read for 30 minutes every night before I go to sleep.

I never got to work in a library but I started to volunteer as a Reading Buddy/Mentor about 7 weeks ago. I go to the school library during my lunch hour and sit with a young child to listen as he reads to me. I am in my happy place. I want to help this child develop a love of reading. Reading always took me to far away places and was an escape from extreme shyness. Neither of my children loved to read like I do until they became adults. I didn’t care what they read as long as they read. Now both of them are big readers.

I am a regular visitor to the website GoodReads. You enter the books that you are reading and you can see what your friends are also reading. You get suggestions of books emailed to you and keep up with new books from your favorite authors. I had a friend to email me once and ask, “Are you okay? I am concerned.” I told her that I was fine and asked why. She said she noticed that I was not reading my usual type of books that I seem to be reading trashy romance novels in the past month. That was not my norm. I had to laugh as I wrote her back that I had been struggling lately and needed to read mindless junk as a way of escaping but I would be fine. That was a good friend to notice.

I have no idea if my reading buddy is getting anything out of our meetings but I hope he can see how I love the books that he picks to read. He especially loves books that have animals in them. I have again learned to enjoy the silly rhyming books with their wacky stories of nonsense. Being back in the library is a good thing for me.

Family Feud

We have watched the Family Feud on television for as long as I can remember. I have memories of seeing it as a child when Richard Dawson was the host that used to kiss everybody. Now I catch it every once in a while, usually by accident when flipping through channels. Once you get started watching, it is hard to switch to another station.

My daughter has wanted to be on television her entire life. As a child in kindergarten, she said she wanted to be a singer on a stage and scan groceries on the weekends. (She loved the beep sound that the groceries made when being scanned) She grew up believing that she was a Disney princess and now as an adult, she still believes it.

I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised when she emailed us saying she had signed the family up for an audition for the game show Family Feud, but I never considered her dragging the whole bunch of us into her television dream. This morning, we drove into the city to have our audition in hopes of flying to LA to be on the real Family Feud with Steve Harvey.

When we walked into the Omni Hotel in Charlotte, it was a little overwhelming because there were 100s of people lined up. Everyone received a name tag and each family was given a clipboard with papers to fill out about your family. The families were divided into 4 groups and taken to different conference rooms. Our host gave us a 10-minute speech about the rules and what we were going to do next. He said there was no money, no prizes to be given out today so everybody had to play nice. He said if, by chance, your family gets all of the answers correct for a clean sweep, that they will give you a little prize, but that was rare. Two families will be called up front and they will play a game just like on the show. My son-in-law says, “I hope they don’t call us first.” They called one family up and everybody screamed and clapped as they went running to the front. Then they called MY family! I honestly don’t remember running up to the front. I was suddenly just there. The captain of each team introduced their family and we started playing the game. It was very fast and sometimes your mind would go completely blank. The other family won the first question and on the second question, we got all of the answers right….a clean sweep! We won a Family Feud tote bag. It felt like we were up front for about 2 minutes, but the camera person said our set lasted 7 minutes. Most of it was a blur to me. Elan said he turned to give me a high five, but I just stared at him. I don’t remember that.

We will hear back from them in a month to see if we were picked to be on the show. There were so many people there that I don’t have high hopes for that happening. But it was a great day and a great experience with my family.

Sleep Study Results

I went to see the doctor to get my results of my sleep study. The doctor brought out page after page, shuffling though to showed me a graph of my first night at the sleep center. He said when I clicked off the light, I was asleep within 10 minutes and I did sleep most all night, even hooked up to all of the wires. But he pointed to the part of the graph that showed my REM sleep. (deep sleep) He said REM sleep is very important and you have to have it for your body and brain to recharge daily. During my REM sleep, I had 29 episodes of compromised breathing within a one hour period. So instead of my body recharging during my REM sleep, I was fighting for air. I was not recharging, which explains why I am always sleepy and tired. I was only getting 70% oxygen instead of 100% when I lie down at night.

The doctor brought out the results of my second sleep study with me all wired up but sleeping with a CPAP machine. (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) I was getting air pumped into my airway, not oxygen. Once again, I went to sleep within 10 minutes but I had only two episodes of compromised breathing all night long. I wonder if that was the two times that the technician came into the room to wake me up? 29 episodes per hour is considered moderate sleep apnea but 30 episodes is severe, so I was right on the line with that. The doctor said I was a great candidate for wearing the CPAP machine and that he thinks it will help with my memory loss, forgetfulness and foggy thinking. I said that in the past two years, my brain just has been slipping and I don’t feel as sharp as I should. He said after about 6 weeks of getting good REM sleep that my memory should come back and I will not feel sluggish with my thinking.

I have slept with my fancy CPAP machine at home for six days now. It is not bad at all. I can breath easier and I am not getting up to go to the bathroom three times every night. The doctor said that was not a bladder thing but a brain thing. I am waking up when the alarm goes off and getting up instead of hitting the snooze alarm for an hour. The doctor said during my 6 days of sleeping with the CPAP machine at home, there were zero episodes of compromised breathing! The machine is bluetooth wireless so my sleep can be monitored and there is even an app for my phone that I can monitor. My doctor seemed excited saying he cannot wait to see me again in January to see if I can tell a difference. He made me feel excited and hopeful!

Sleeping with a CPAP Machine

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I went to the sleep center to have my second sleep study, this time while wearing a CPAP machine to be monitored while I slept. It was exactly like the first study with the technician taking 30 minutes to get me all wired up. I told her that I was really tired and wanted to go to sleep early. The CPAP machine was on the nightstand and there were 2 kinds of masks for me to try. The technician put a mask on me that covered only my nose and used the straps to get it in place. With the light on, I laid down flat on my back and she turned the CPAP machine on. I instantly felt like I was smothering and sat straight up only after 2-3 minutes. It made me feel claustrophobic like I was not getting enough air, even though she said I was getting plenty of air. She put a mask on me that covered my nose and mouth. I felt more at ease with this one. Funny, my friends all said I would hate this one but I was asleep within 10 minutes.

From the other room, the technician would slowly raise the pressure of the air and she could monitor me. When the air pressure would get higher, it would wake me up. Twice, she had to come into the room and wake me up. Both times, I felt like I was fighting the machine. My bed looked like their had been a struggle! The light came on at 5:00 am and I was told that I could go home.

I had sticky tape marks all over my face and my hair was standing straight up with little spots of goo in it from the wire monitors. I slid my clothes on and left the building going out into the dark, cool night. The woman at the drive thru at Bojangles stared at me like she was concerned when I ordered my biscuit and a caffeine soda, but she didn’t say anything! I probably looked pretty rough.

I got a call the next day saying a CPAP machine had been ordered for me and I would be called to set up a time for a 30 minute tutorial to learn how to use it. After a week with the CPAP machine, I would meet again with my sleep doctor. I am glad that it is all behind me.

Sleep Study

I had a sleep study done this week and received the call that it was positive for sleep apnea. I wasn’t surprised, in fact, I feel somewhat relieved. I told my family doctor that I had not felt good for the past year. Grief from the loss of my father, gaining 30 pounds since his death, and adding menopause on top of that will wear you down. I lie in my bed eight hours a night, but I don’t sleep eight hours. I go to sleep fast, but I wake up several times during the night. I wake up sleepy every morning. I have a sense of feeling sleepy all of the time. I never feel rested. Even if I sleep late on Saturdays, I struggle to get out of bed. So I asked my doctor if she would schedule a sleep study.

I went to the Sleep Center at 8:00 pm with my overnight bag and rang the doorbell. We walked down a hallway that looked like a hotel and I was assigned to room #4. There were two women working there and it was very quiet. My room looked like a generic hotel room but with a really plush recliner inside. She told me to make myself at home, watch TV, put in a DVD, talk on my phone or read. They had wifi so it was like a hotel room. She said that she would return to my room in an hour to get me wired up for the study. The paperwork said that I need to bring pajamas, but I don’t own a pair, so I changed into a tee shirt and shorts. I climbed into the recliner and read until she knocked on the door and entered pulling her tray of equipment inside.

Monitors were taped to my legs, then more were put on my chest. Three electrodes were taped across my chin, one right below my eye, three taped to my forehead, one behind each ear, then several all over my scalp. These electrodes were to record my brain activity, chin muscle tone, measure my air flow, eye movements, leg movements, heart rates and oxygen saturation. There were 2 elastic bands that were belted around my chest to measure my chest wall movements, and a pulse ox was placed on my finger. She said they would be able to see when I was dreaming but NOT, what I was dreaming. That was good to know! I was told to read or watch TV until I was ready to go to sleep.

When I finished my reading about 10:00 pm, noticing a camera pointing towards my bed as I reached over and clicked off the lamp. I spotted a small red light on the ceiling and that was the only light in the dark room. I did turn on the fan in the room, just like at home. I heard the technician’s soft voice over the speaker saying that if I needed anything just to say it out loud and she would hear me, like if I needed to get up to go to the bathroom. She would have to come in and unhook me to get to the bathroom. I only drank one small cup of water at dinner for this very reason. She asked me to lie on my back and relax then open and close my eyes several times. I was asked to move my eyes from left to the right, then up and down, then to clear my throat three times then hold my breath for the count of ten. Next, I was asked to move my legs back and forth. There was a pause and she said Goodnight. I slowly turned over on my side, afraid of pulling out my wires, then went to sleep.

I woke up and didn’t know if I had been asleep for 30 minutes or 5 hours because it was dark and I could not see my watch. I said out loud that I needed to go to the bathroom and my bedroom door instantly opened. It was only 12:30. She unhooked me from the machine and I walked to the bathroom. When I came back, she asked if I would try to sleep on my back. I told her that it would be a struggle but I would try. I went back to sleep pretty quick, but lying on my back, I woke myself up with one of those ugly snores where you think you are not getting enough air. I did that three different times, then turned over on my side knowing that she saw how I could not sleep on my back.

I woke up a second time needing to go to the bathroom but did not open my eyes hoping I could wait. My door instantly opened again and the technician says, “I saw you wake up. Do you need to go to the bathroom again?” I smiled to myself and said yes, seeing that it was 4:30 am. When I came back, she said that she had a really good recording of my sleep and asked if I was ready to go home. I did have the option of going back to sleep but I was ready to leave. It took her a while to get me unhooked and I put my wrap around my shoulders and left the building to come home.

I asked the lady if she was a nurse and she said no that she went to school for sleep medicine. She said you could get a two or four-year degree. I thought for a minute and realized that you would always work the night shift. Always. I bet it is a job that is in demand because I assumed it was done by a nurse. She told me that it went against a person’s nature to stay up all night and there were several disadvantages but she enjoyed it. That might not be a bad job to only work with sleeping people!

I received a call today saying I needed to do part two of the study now since I have sleep apnea. I will have to go back and sleep there again, but this time using a CPAP machine to see how I sleep with one. I am not nervous about it, but I feel hopeful. I want to wake up and feel good again.

Blessings

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I came home from work to find a little package on my front door knob. I took it inside and it was a beautiful necklace. A long chain with a wing, a shield and a little tag that says Psalm 91:4. I smiled because that is my favorite Bible verse. I figured it was from my friend Anita because she likes to surprise me by putting things on my doorstep. I text her and she said Nope. Who else would know that it is my favorite verse? I can’t think of anyone else that would know that. I was puzzled. The thing is, I was headed on vacation in a couple of days, so this necklace would be a reminder that I would be protected during my travel.

On the bag was the name of the jewelry company, so I thought I would call a neighbor that had a jewelry party once that I attended. I don’t wear jewelry much at all but I did attend an online party to help her out. I thought maybe she could help me figure out where it came from. I emailed her to ask if she put a necklace on my front door and she said, “Yes. God laid it on my heart to bring you that necklace.” I was shocked. She said that I had mentioned to her that the necklace had my favorite verse on it. She said it had been on her mind all week so she left it at my house hoping that I would never figure out who left it. She had no idea that I was leaving for vacation. It is very humbling when you get a message from God reassuring you that He loves and protects you. This necklace will always be special gift to me.
Psalm 91:4- He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge, his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.