Gathering for the Good

November was difficult. I am still reeling a bit as I reflect on the last month. How can some of the hardest aspects of life, also become the most amazing and miraculous? I find myself being thankful and deeply upheld by something greater than I could ever explain. I have never experienced anything like it in my life. It was perfect timing. It was exactly what I needed.

Early in August, my youngest sister Juli was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain tissue. Then, during a scan to determine how much brain swelling was occurring, doctors discovered an aneurysm. This was the very condition that took our dad’s life at 64 years of age. I was already on edge about Juli’s health after she was diagnosed with pancreatitis some years ago, along with thyroid issues, but this took my concern to a higher level. So, I offered to come to Nebraska right away, knowing she must need help, but she asked me to hold off until the week of the aneurysm surgery in early November.  Waiting three months was difficult, especially hearing from my mom and a couple of siblings just how poorly Juli was faring during this time.

As soon as I arrived in Nebraska, Juli and I headed next door to a fundraiser breakfast put on by the local volunteer fire department. Juli’s husband, Chris, is quite active in the community and serves on the fire department. I immediately felt a sense of community and caring on entering the warmth of the fire station. People kept streaming in, and chatter and laughter could be heard all around. There were smiles and friendly faces of the local boy scouts and firefighters who came around offering refills of beverages. People stopped continually to wish my sister well on her surgery and to offer prayer. We learned about a Facebook prayer vigil that would go on for more than nine hours the day of her surgery. I began to feel more confident just knowing so many people were supporting Juli and all of us in thought and prayer.

I had a yummy pancake, sausage, and scrambled egg breakfast the morning I arrived at Juli’s house. Many folks stopped by to wish Juli well on her surgery. There was a lot of hugging going on that morning. Juli is in the black and white plaid shirt and I am to her right… eating of course!
Ground piles of corn could be found near most any small-town elevator. I kept thinking how back in Oklahoma I was paying $7 for a 50 lb bag of corn to feed our deer. I wonder if hauling corn across state lines is considered bootlegging?
It was my job to feed and water Annie during my stay with Juli’s family. I found Annie waiting on me every morning at 6:00 indicating she was ready to eat. She was good at giving me the “look” for quite a few treats too.
The weather did not seem to cooperate much while I was in Nebraska. Fortunately, the Nebraska Department of Transportation is well equipped to keep winter roads clear.

The next day, I drove Juli to Omaha for an early morning appointment. That is when I became almost panicked over my eyesight. I had noticed a decline in my vision in the last few months, but I blamed it on dry eyes. It was one thing to drive during the day on familiar roads but, on this 101 mile stretch, we started out at 5:30 in the dark, in the rain, and by the time we hit the Omaha city limits, we were in morning rush hour traffic. Thankfully, Juli knew where we were going and helped direct me. By the time we made it home that afternoon, I was cratered. What on earth had happened to my vision? I would be driving to Omaha the next day for the surgery, this time with Emily and Sid, my niece and nephew riding along. Chris would be spending the night with Juli and I would take the kids back home.

Fortunately, we did not have to be at the hospital until mid-morning the next day. The drive went pretty well since it was sunny and we did not have to deal with rush hour traffic. Along the way, Sid helped me watch for exits and street signs. At the hospital again, I felt a sense of comfort as medical staff and Juli’s team of doctors introduced themselves, one by one, to talk with her and explain the procedure and how things would go every step of the way. Each person that came to see her was kind and assuring. They listened and often extended a hand to reach out to touch her arm. Her personal nurse was a special kind of comforter. He seemed to sense every worry and concern about her, and his amazing, gentle humor broke the anxiety that was etched on her face that morning.

As a team of medical professionals escorted Juli away from Chris and me, I felt calm, knowing Juli was in the most capable hands I could imagine. As we sat for four hours waiting to hear from the neurologist, I thought about all of the people who were a part of the Facebook prayer vigil, and all of the people who had mentioned to Juli that they would be praying and, each time my cell phone chimed, I felt the love from a few friends back home in Oklahoma and family in Texas who were offering prayer and support. It was quite an experience to feel the intensity of being upheld in love and caring in the thoughts and prayers of so many people. Juli did well, and the surgery was successful, thanks to a great team of doctors and medical staff… and a few hundred folks out there who gathered together in thought and prayer for the good of another.

Juli was all smiles after her surgery. Sid and Em spend a little time with their mom before heading home with me.
Juli always did have a way of tugging my heart strings. I was twelve years old when she was born, and I adore her now, just as much as I did then.

Despite all the good news of the day, I was back to panic mode on the drive home that night, in the dark where everything was a horrible blur. Again, I had to rely on the GPS to weave my way back through Omaha and, thankfully, Sid helped me watch for exits and advised me when it was safe to move to another lane. Over the remainder of the week, I helped Juli around the house and worked on winterizing her flower beds. On my departure heading south towards home again, I collected my brother to take him with me to Wichita, where his family was gathering at his daughter’s home for an early Thanksgiving celebration. Dale and his wife, Omelea, would be heading to Mayo Clinic in Rochester the next week to see about more testing and to possibly set up surgery for a permanent hip and rebuild. Dale was involved in a four-wheeler accident at the age of fifteen. Over the years, he had suffered much pain and endured many surgeries. He was still recouping from a surgery in September where a temporary hip was put in place while he healed from an infection. It was a special family gathering in Wichita that weekend – one of thankfulness and hope.

This year, my niece Rachel, and her husband, Mike, hosted the early Thanksgiving dinner in Wichita, Kansas for family and friends. Here Rachel, her mom, my brother, and my nephew, Jeff, all pitch in to prepare food. Hmm, on second thought, I think Jeff was helping to sample the food!

And just a week later, FD and I were back on the road to Nebraska. Sid’s high school football team, the Centennial Broncos (my alma mater), were playing in Lincoln Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in the State Championship football game. Sid is a senior this year, so there was no way we were going to miss this exciting game! Once again, I was bowled over by the crowd that amassed in the frigid cold that morning in support of a small consolidated school. Young and old huddled together, sharing blankets and sipping hot drinks, cheering and shouting positive encouragement. I think it could be said I did a lot of screaming and hollering! It was a nail-biter of a game, but the Broncos pulled off the win with a 2-point conversion in overtime – the first state football championship in Centennial’s history! That day we experienced yet another level of gathering in fellowship and celebration.

After the big championship win, Sid takes time to pose with his auntie and uncle. FD and I wore the warmest clothing we had. I saw a lot of people wearing camouflage and lots of farm folks wearing coveralls and seed company or farm implement company logo jackets.

On Thanksgiving evening, we joined my sister and her family at the home of her in-law’s, as Dorothy and Allen wanted to help out with Juli’s recovery in some way. Juli was healing well, but she still suffered headaches and was easily fatigued. I thought about how hard it must have been for Dorothy to prepare such a feast for six additional people. This gathering on a smaller level, spoke mountains to me about the love and caring of family. Allen even sent home ears of field corn in a couple of buckets for our deer. That melted my heart.

We have been home for a week now, and I still have this feeling of thankfulness and gratitude for the love and support of family, friends and strangers who cared to gather for the good of others. So many blessings came in the month of November.  And yes, I made eye appointments for both FD and me on our return, and I get my first set of progressive eye glasses next week.

FD and I always look forward to our annual eye exams. These people are good friends as well as professionals who help keep us healthy. We all had a big laugh that FD and Doc were wearing the same dress shirts that day!
In the end, it sure was good to get home to Oscar, Lollipop, and Mr. T. I think Mr. T missed me the most. He’s my sweet, old fella…

© 2018 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…

35 thoughts on “Gathering for the Good

    1. Thank you Paulette. My sister is improving nicely. Encephalitis is some wicked stuff. And my eye exam went well, it’s just those birthdays that are finally giving me a little trouble! I’m lucky I got by this long without needing eye glasses!


  1. Lori, I’ve said before that there are a lot of people you have never met who follow your stories and truly care about you. Just think, these are all in addition to family and friends who know you personally! Hope things continue to go well for your sister. (Btw, I think Annie may be a wee bit spoiled.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you Ellen. Your reassuring words always mean so much to me. There are many good and loving people in this world.

      Yes, you’ve nailed it with Annie. She’s a border collie rescue and it was a long, hard road Juli’s family had to earn her trust. Now Annie seems to be the boss around there! I gave her a lot of back massages in the evenings. She usually plopped down in front of me to let me know it was time for her massage. She had me trained in no time!


  2. I noticed that you hadn’t posted for five weeks, so I figured something was up. Now it’s clear that a lot was up. You must feel relieved that things have turned out generally well. I’m glad to see you’re getting your first set of glasses with progressive lenses; that’s the right way to go, and I think you’ll really enjoy the difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have had a lot of stress over Juli. It has been a great relief to know that she is improving. The first thing I did on my return was to grab the camera and got out to just sit in the orchard. I didn’t see anything much to photograph that morning, but it was necessary to just be in the moment for an hour or so. When I get my eyeglasses next week, I think I might enjoy being outdoors even more. Not long ago FD and I were out in the buggy one evening and I mistook a coyote for a young deer!


  3. Close and extended families are a blessing. Ive never had that support unfortunately. All my best wishes for Juli’s recovery. And don’t forget to look after yourself too. I’ve had progressive lens glasses for 16 yrs already! Can’t see a thing without them 😀. Xxxx


    1. Our family hasn’t been what I would call close. Juli and I have always been close, but that has much to do with our ages. I was twelve when she was born, and mom really allowed me to have a big part in her daily care. Not having children of my own, she has been more like a daughter to me. Our family has had some losses and some health issues over the past couple of years, which has caused us to come together more. Our mom needs our help as she ages so we’re working together to tend to her needs. I also feel there has been some hurt suffered by the next generation because of our family issues. It takes good communication and a willingness to forgive and move forth with open hearts to create something better in a family.

      I’m sure I will enjoy my new glasses. I’m pretty lucky as I’m 57 and haven’t needed reading glasses until now. I had the lasik procedure twenty-some years ago for my distance, but that is no longer working for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, Lori, it really sounds like a lot to process over the recent months. Humans can be so nurturing and compassionate through things like you’ve experienced. I’m so glad you were on the receiving end of such kindness. Are you 47 yet? I remember hearing that 47 is the magic age when the vision starts to deteriorate. That was exactly the age I got my first pair of reading glasses. I’m 65 now and still only need reading glasses so that’s not too bad. Good to read this, you’ve been in my thoughts. I hope you find some peace during the holidays. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thank you, Ardys. When I returned home, you can guess I jumped in the buggy and ventured out to the woods with my camera! I still find myself reveling in the feeling of being upheld by something great, those days before, during and after Juli’s surgery. It made a big impression on me. I am just so thankful for that experience.

      I am 57, and I did have Lasik surgery more than 20 years ago for distance correction. Until the last year I got by without reading glasses. But over the last few months both the close and distance vision went downhill. I look forward to being able to see again – especially for driving. Omaha is an old city with lots of winding, narrow streets. It was a horribly stressful couple of trips there!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Lori, I’m so thankful Juli came through that surgery so well. I can imagine how helpless you must have felt waiting for the surgery date. I’ll keep her in my thoughts and hope she continues to do well. Sending love to you too, as I know how hard all of this has been on you.

    Looking forward to seeing you in your new progressive lenses. I’m sure you’ll look adorable, as usual. Will be interested in hearing how you adjust to them. I’ve had mine for about a year and a half, and find them rather annoying, to be honest. I still have to use drug store reading glasses to read, so perhaps I need my prescription adjusted already. Ah, the joys of aging.


    1. There was a lot more I could have written about regarding the stress over the last three months, and especially the week of the surgery. It was all I could muster to keep my emotions and tears under control… not just about Juli but other family matters going on. It feels good to be back home but there are more trips up north that need to be addressed. I’m trying to take one day at a time.

      I’m not really excited about regular eyeglasses again. I wore glasses when I was young, then had lasik a little more than twenty years ago. I have enjoyed not wearing glasses except light readers. So, I’m a little apprehensive about this… but I’m also hopeful to see much clearer.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, Lori, there’s so much I love about this post that I don’t quite know where to begin. But first, I must give thanks for Juli’s successful surgery and for all those people who upheld her in prayer. I adore that photo of you two. Your love shines.

    I love the corn piles outside the elevator, the breakfast fundraiser, the state championship football game (congrats)–all that speaks small town love and care and family love and care.

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I needed to read this in the light of all the negativity in today’s world. This restores my hope.

    BTW, Randy and I are getting our eyes checked next week, too, as we’ve both noticed declining vision, or at least the need for new prescriptions.


    1. Aw, thank you, Audrey. Juli continues to heal. There was more detail to this story that spoke of miracles – I tried to recap the gist of it all. I am still just bowled over by the love and caring of that little town, of Juli’s co-workers and friends. And that hospital staff… I have never seen a more caring group of people. I shall never forget her personal nurse, Eric. Like you, I needed this “in the light of all of the negativity in today’s world” (you said that so well).

      I’m thankful for vision correction, however it needs to be. My procrastination about getting help surely taught me a lesson this time. My stress level in Omaha wouldn’t have been nearly so high if I could have seen better. I hope I transition well to the progressive lenses. Lots of people enjoy them so I hope I do too!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Lori, I have been back to this post three times trying to say something, anything, that conveys my heart. Thing is, the only thing that is meaningful is: I’m so glad it has worked out for all of you.

    The power of prayer is an abundant gift to the receiver and to the giver. You and yours have been richly blessed.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Lynda, I felt the same thing in the days following our return to Oklahoma. I just could not effectively put thoughts down. I still have this feeling of wonderment at what I experienced in November. We have all been very blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Audrey’s comment mirrors my thoughts as I read your post, Lori. I find hope for our country in your description. The hope is not about being without troubles, but about the way you, your family, your community address them. I get a lot of inspiration from reading your down-to-earth stories. Thank you. P.S. I was right with you in the car on those trips to and from Omaha. God bless Sid for bring there too!


    1. Thank you, Albert. It means so much to hear those words. Like many people, I grew up learning to be tough, and showing emotion was being weak. Never have I ever experienced being held up by others. It gave me strength to deal with my inner emotions.

      There was a moment of humor in the truck heading home from the hospital that night. Just as Sid was about to direct me to the last exit to I-80, Emily, who was in the backseat, let out the loudest sneeze I think I’ve ever heard! I went from being gripped to the steering wheel to complete exasperation that finally allowed me to relax a little. We all had a good laugh, and I made Emily promise not to pull THAT stunt again! Humor helps everything!

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  10. So glad that Juli’s surgery was a success!
    It is incredible that challenges can still have positive outcomes. Glad to read it AND hope that your eye appointments lead to postive improvement in your vision


    1. Hello Laura, and thank you! You can attest to that very fact – it seems to be the way of life, challenges and positive outcomes, if we’re open to seeing the experience that way.

      I’m not sure I’m ecstatic about the progressive lenses. The first day was awful, but I’m adjusting. I do not see me wearing them to do my outdoor work. I may have to have eyeglasses with single vision lenses for distance to help with that.


  11. This Fall has been a very busy and stressful time for you. I can only imagine the anxiety involved before and after your sister’s surgery, which when put into proper context, was one that was critical and potentially life threatening. But what a relief to know that she made it through a successful surgery.

    A community such as the one your family members live in, is in humble opinion, a rarity now days. But it is also a testament to your sister of what a good neighbor she has been and how well she and her family are regarded. Everyone should be so lucky to live in a place comparable to her community.

    I have been there the same as you, of not being able to see very well, when I was needing cataract and glaucoma surgery, a little over a year ago. Having surgery really improved my eye sight but I am not happy with new glasses. I do not think my refraction is correct but oh well, I have resorted to readers that my son gave me from his stash of glasses that he had accumulated after his ATV wreck and rehabilitation.

    Loved seeing the photos and what Nebraska country looks like. It is much intimate than seeing the photos in a book.


    1. I have experienced a lot of “community” feeling during my visits to that little town over the last decade. Fund raising breakfasts and gatherings for helping folks in need are common here. Their Memorial Day festivities are respectful and caring. I have never witnessed anything like it anywhere I’ve lived.

      I really need to photojournal a trip up north during the summer months, which is my favorite time to visit Nebraska. Winter has its beauty too, but I seem to revel more in the lush crops growing during the summer months, the hum of the irrigation running, and the smell of earth.

      I have to say, I’m struggling with these progressive lenses. Certainly, each day is better for me, but I do not see how I will manage working out in the woods. I may have to have some frames with only single vision lenses for distance. I have plenty of old frames I can use and just pay for the lenses. It would be good to be able to see a mammal in the distance and be able to decipher whether it’s a fawn/yearling or a coyote! Ha ha!

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Yvonne. I think of you often.

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      1. Thank you, Lori for your cyber friendship. I think about you as well and I am so glad that we have a connection because of a mutual love for many things. A photo journal would be a lovely project and one that your followers would enjoy.

        I have been thinking the same thing about my glasses. I have not been wearing them because I get vey dizzy when I wear them. My old ones before surgery did not cause any dizziness. The distant vision is very minor but I can not see any improvement when I wear the glasses. And I really do not like the frames either when the tech told me fit my face and looked good on me. Oh well. Maybe I’ll get it sorted out, hopefully. I was told to wear them for up to three months and then they would re-make them.I think I will see what an optometrist has to say about my vision. I have always used my MD in the past, My daughter thinks an optometrist can do a better vision test, since that is all they do.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We have always gone to an optometrist. I was told to give these a week or two and if I didn’t like them we could do something else. I still haven’t decided. I know I need them adjusted as they’re pinching my ears and sliding down my nose some. I’ve also lowered my computer monitors so that I don’t have to turn my head up to read the screen. It’s an adjustment for sure.

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  12. You said it! The support from family and friends – and even strangers – is what matters in times of need! The upport mechanism is awesome! On another note, of course, progessive eyeglasses work like magic! Mine did!


    1. I can see where these progressive lenses are handy when I need to read and see distance and a medial range, but for my work in the woodlands they are frustrating. I had to bend my head down uncomfortably to pick up wood. So I went back to the optometrist and had him put distance lenses only in an old set of frames so I could do outdoor work. They also make photography easier too.

      I’d never felt anything like being upheld by a community of people until the day of Juli’s surgery. There is no doubt in my mind that we are all connected… always.

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